Deputies: Thieves steal copper from school construction site



MARION COUNTY, Fla. - A school, under construction in Marion County, had its copper cleaned out, according to deputies.

Marion County's newest elementary school is costing taxpayers $16 million. Part of the bill is for the plumbing -- much of which is missing.

"The stuff is very heavy. So, the suspects definitely had a good workout moving all this stuff," said Det. Steve Osborne of the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators said late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, thieves cut the locks off three large cargo trailers at the construction site on Juniper Road and stole more than $50,000 worth of copper tubing.

The trailer holding most of the copper had a pickup truck parked in front of its door, as an extra layer of protection, but deputies said the crooks crawled under the truck, broke the transmission linkage and pushed it out of the way.

Detectives said they believe the thieves knew what they were looking for and where to find it.

"We look at everybody, from within and without," said Osborne. "It's a construction site. These guys have worked on or do work on a construction site and know what they keep in these trailers."

The Sheriff's Office alerted all of the scrap yards across the region, which will make it harder for the thieves to sell the stolen copper.