The Forest City Velodrome says power to its facility will be restored sometime Wednesday afternoon, days after thieves cut copper wiring from a nearby hydro pole leaving them on the hook for costly repairs.
On Saturday morning, volunteers arrived for a session of track cycling to find the lights would not turn on and no electricity was available. A police investigation and security footage confirmed the cabling was severed at around 5 a.m.
“Theft of copper that’s relatively easily accessible is extremely common,” said Craig Linton, president of the Forest City Velodrome. “I’ve heard recently of many other organizations and buildings having the same issue as us, so we’re certainly not alone in this situation.”
It’s estimated the thieves could make $500 from the copper that they might try to sell to local scrap yards. At London’s largest, Matt Zubick of John Zubick Ltd said they’re constantly trying to avoid buying stolen copper which is currently valued at $4/lb.
A city by-law requires all local scrap yards to keep records of items purchased and who they were purchased from. While hesitant to disclose all his trade secrets, Zubick said discrepancies between who the person says they are and what they’re bringing in is one of the red flags.
“If there is someone bringing in a lot of hydro cable for example, and they’re not an electrician, we’re going to question where they come from,” said Zubick. “And that’s a question that anyone should be asking when they’re buying that material.”
It’s important to ask questions, he added, because ongoing copper thefts pose a threat to the legitimacy of his livelihood.
‘It makes us all look bad’
They also take business away from those who remove scrap as a service.
“It makes us all look bad in the industry because people think that we’re the ones doing it when we’re just out trying to make an honest living off of it,” said Connor Brown, owner of C&M Scrap Metal Removal and Services. “It also takes away from potential customers that could call me for that work.”
Copper thefts are investigated by the LPS uniformed division unless there is a break and enter associated with the theft, said Const. Sandasha Bough. At that point, it is reassigned to members of the LPS street crime unit.
Last spring, copper thieves left the Palace Theatre footing a $35,000 repair bill after vandalizing its air conditioning unit for the third time in five years.
They removed $16 worth of copper. The Forest City Velodrome, also a non-profit, is raising funds through an online campaign to cover the expense to repair the electrical lines.