Copper thieves strike at ACE Hardware stores - Tucson News Now

Copper thieves strike at ACE Hardware stores

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Copper thieves have been targeting the Ace Hardware stores in Tucson.

Owners of several stores contacted Tucson News Now saying they had fallen victim to these copper crooks, and had surveillance video they wanted to share.

David Rhude, the owner of the Ace Hardware store on Grant Road said at least ten stores had been hit up in the last 2-3 weeks, and he estimated a total of about $10,000 worth of copper was stolen from the stores.

The business has state of the art surveillance and more than a dozen cameras all over the store.

Cameras captured the suspect walking in through the front door.  He appeared to stop and talk to the cashier clerk, then walked to the back of the store, where big rolls of insulated copper wiring were bolted to shelves with heavy duty cables.

In the video, you can see the suspect kneeling down toward the copper coils.  The owner said he appeared to be cutting through the cables, then you see the suspect with several rolls of copper insulation in his hands, walking out the back door.

"He's very bold. Obviously not afraid of getting caught.  We don't know if the individual is armed or not," said Rhude.

Rhude said each roll of copper was between $400-500 and weighed about 30 pounds.

Witnesses at a neighboring business described seeing a car waiting near the back door.

Witnesses described the vehicle as a 1999-2000 black Monte Carlo, with a broken rear window, stock wheels, and there appeared to be a female Hispanic in the driver's seat.

"It's very frustrating.  All of us get up everyday, we go to work, do our job and contribute to the community.  Somebody like this is doing it the easy way, now our cost goes up, and we have to pass that on to the consumer.  It angers me, this hurts every working citizen in Tucson," said Rhude.

Ace Hardware stores have now posted the mans picture at the front register in all of their stores.  They have also replaced the heavy cable wires with chain link and locks.

"Let's try to get this guy off the street.  To carry it a step farther, somebody in town is buying this copper.  If there wasn't a market for it they wouldn't be stealing it," said Rhude.

Tucson police said the calls had initially been reported as individual shoplifting calls.  Detectives in the Larceny Detail will now review the case and take over the investigation.

If you recognize the man in the video, we urge you to call 911 or 88-CRIME.

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