Thieves steal copper from Pontiac school building

PONTIAC, Mich. (WXYZ) - Thieves stole copper from a vacant school building in Pontiac and keep coming back to finish off the job.

When 7 Action News crews arrived at Bethune School in Pontiac for an interview, the superintendent said the thieves had come back minutes earlier and were spotted on the roof of the school to get what they did not grab the night prior.

The robbers made a quick getaway when they spotted the superintendent and his facilities director on the property.

When you go inside the school, there is insulation lying on the ground everywhere. Wherever that insulation is, it means that is an area from where the thieves stole copper.

"As we try to refurbish our buildings so they can be sold and that they find another use within the community, we are getting robbed at the same time," said Pontiac Schools Superintendent Brian Dougherty. "It's extremely difficult for a district that has a 37 million dollar deficit."

Bethune School has been vacant since last year when it closed down. The district has been renovating it for reuse and had a serious buyer, but the sale is now in jeopardy.

"We are going to have to talk with our realtor and the buyer is going to have to come back and look at the building," said Dougherty.

The thieves were able to break in by cutting the power to the alarm system. They ran away, and then waited for the backup battery to the alarm to die before coming back when the school was vulnerable again.

The superintendent is asking for people who live around their schools to be their eyes and ears for suspicious activity so they can catch the robbers.

The district has 13 other vacant buildings and $200 million dollars in insurance claims from copper also being stolen from those other buildings.

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