Copper thefts problem for school district

Friday, September 5th 2008, 11:32 pm
By: News 9

By Colleen Chen, NEWS 9

EL RENO, Okla. -- Copper thefts are becoming a problem, especially for Banner schools. School districts are already pinching pennies and the recent thefts are adding to funding problems for the state's education system.

The district only has 207 kids to begin with, and funding is already tight.

Inside Mrs. Kay's classroom sits a bunch of kids trying to concentrate. They're trying real hard, but something invisible is making it difficult -- the heat.

"It feels like a popsicle that melts like in less than five seconds," student Brayden Seright said.

It is 81 degrees in Brayden's classroom and it's been that hot all day.

"I wish we could go to another school right now that did have air conditioning," Seright said.

There isn't much left of the five air conditioning units at his school after thieves broke in to steal the copper Thursday night.

Staff and students suffer financially as well. It will cost the district at least $10,000. The same thing happened two years ago, eating up $44,000 is money that should have and could have gone into other places.

"We're trying to do things for kids and we're going to have to spend more money for the air conditioners," Banner Public School Superintendent Larry York said.

Investigators said it's a recurring scene in Canadian County.

"For instance in the last three weeks we've had five reports of air condition thefts," Undersheriff Mike Ramsey from the Canadian County Sheriff's office said.

It's happening more often at schools like Banner.

Thieves who steal copper can get up to five years in prison.

Banner's superintendent plans to put in more security and is looking for grants to help fund them.

This summer, a law was passed to crack down on scrap metal dealers, but investigators said the community is their best tool. They ask you to call police if you think you see copper thefts occurring.