Arrest made in massive copper theft

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Police have arrested one man Wednesday morning following a huge copper theft in the Fairfax Industrial District.

On Tuesday, workers reported copper had been stripped from the vacant H.B. Fuller plant. The thieves made the mistake of returning for more on Wednesday.

A clean-up crew arrived at the empty factory Wednesday morning and captured one man they said was trying to remove more copper from the building. Workers said a large amount of copper from air conditioners and electrical components already had been stolen out of the empty factory. Workers estimate the cost to repair all the damage at about $250,000.

"We went around there and caught the guy back there," said Leroy Lippert of Hosea Project Movers. "He was surprised. He didn't know we were coming. We caught him and held him. I called the police and went back there and tried to see what all they had taken. They've been working on this place for a while."

The polymer maker shut down its operation here in March. And crews have been working to preserve idle equipment and move some gear to other plants.

Lippert said the scrap value of all the copper taken from the plant may be valued at more than $10,000.

KCK police are searching for at least one other suspect they believe got away for the second time. The thieves even stripped copper wire from the utility poles feeding into the plant.

If you can help police identify others involved in this big copper theft, call the TIPS hotline at 816-474-TIPS.

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