Copper Thieves Target Live Wires

April 10, 2012 Updated Apr 10, 2012 at 8:24 PM EDT

By Allen Leight

April 10, 2012 Updated Apr 10, 2012 at 8:24 PM EDT

LOCKPORT, NY (WKBW) - Three businesses were struck back in February, and three more attempts were made Monday night. Two of them successful.

Desperate thieves are exhibiting a new trend in stealing copper and no longer focus on abandoned house and buildings. Their attention has now shifted to stripping equipment and wiring outside of active buildings.

In at least one case, thieves risked their lives by cutting live copper wire feeding a Transit Road tanning salon.

"They actually cut the wire with an implement while it was still live, and this is a tanning bed so there's a lot of power going into the building, so it's pretty dangerous," said Lockport Police Chief Larry Eggert.

According to police, a number of businesses in the Lockport Plaza have been targeted.

Thieves also struck the historic Palace Theatre in downtown Lockport, stripping copper wiring from four air-conditioning units located in a back alley behind the theatre.

"What they stole was about maybe $300 worth of copper. It's going to cost us about $20-$25,000 dollars to replace all the units and equipment that goes along with it," said Christopher Parada, Executive Director of the theatre.

Police say their investigation has revealed that many residents near targeted businesses have heard suspicious noises late at night, but didn't report it to police.

Chief Eggert is hoping this new round of thefts will push the public to report anything suspicious, especially unusual noises late at night.

Anyone with information is asked to call Lockport Police at (716) 433-7700.