Police say latest copper theft may put Diboll Civic Center construction in jeopardy

Courtesy of Diboll Police.
Courtesy of Diboll Police.
Courtesy of Diboll Police.
Courtesy of Diboll Police.

DIBOLL, TX (KTRE) - By Holley Nees - email

DIBOLL, TX (KTRE) - Diboll Police say they have no leads, just a photo, in the case of multiple copper thefts at the new Diboll Civic Center.

The thieves last hit the facility on FM 1818 around 4 a.m. Tuesday, causing $50,000 worth of damage as they have ruined the air-conditioning unit.

According to Det. Brandan Lovell, police believe at least two people have stolen copper from the facility three different times and they may have also stolen copper wire from the junior high school in Diboll.

Lovell said he has alerted surrounding law enforcement agencies, as he suspects they may have committed the crime in other jurisdictions.

"We don't recognize him being from the Diboll area, we're sure that this is not their first rodeo," Lovell said.

Lovell said the thieves were caught on camera Tuesday morning, as a still photo shows one of the men apparently holding copper as he looks at the camera. Lovell said the suspect tried to turn the camera, but not before it showed his face.

"It's definitely going to be the nail in the coffin," Lovell said. "It's just like fingerprints."

After the thieves hit the facility the first time at the beginning of July, Lovell said officials built a fence around the air-conditioning unit. But the thieves took the fence off the hinges and stole more copper last week.

"It's one thing if you get hit and you never expect them to come back and then they come back so repeatedly," Lovell said. "It was real frustrating for us."

The latest act may put construction of the new facility in jeopardy, as there is no air conditioning in the building. Tile work may also be ruined due to the extra humidity built up from the lack of air conditioning.

"It actually looks like a tornado had hit it," said Sarah Thompson, director of the civic center. "It's all torn up and I'm just speechless about it really.

"This morning we were actually scheduled to connect the AC and again that would be one step closer to finalizing that stage of the renovation," Thompson said.

Thompson said the contractor's insurance will likely foot the bill for the units, while the city pays to fix the fence.

Thompson says part of the renovation is installing new security cameras and now she says they know exactly where they'll be putting one of them.

Anyone wishing to leave an anonymous tip regarding the crime may do so by calling 639-TIPS.

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