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Copper theft investigation still active

Published 12:04pm Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Officials to meet this week for update


CHESAPEAKE — A meeting is scheduled for this week between Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office detectives and Chesapeake school officials about the ongoing investigation into the theft of copper from school grounds.

At the end of January construction crews working on the new athletic complex at the high school discovered an extensive theft of copper piping from the building that would house public restrooms, locker rooms for visiting teams and the concession stand.

The meeting had originally been planned for a week ago, but was canceled because of scheduling conflicts. Also expected to participate in the meeting will be the construction firm responsible for installing the plumbing.

“Our position is to know as best as we can what took place,” Chesapeake School Superintendent Jerry McConnell said. “Our position is we aren’t going to turn our back on this. Someone came on our property and took items at the taxpayers’ expense, at our children’s expense.”

Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless describes the investigation as active and ongoing and remains optimistic that the case can be solved. Investigators have been following up on leads and checking out the surveillance cameras at businesses in the area.

They have also canvassed scrap dealers in the Tri-State and beyond to see if large quantities of metal had been brought in.

“The cameras have not shown us some of the things we were hoping to find,” Lawless said. “We are still following up on leads. We still think that there will be something happening.”

At the time of the theft, a representative of the construction firm estimated the loss at $40,000. However, McConnell said that figure has yet to be confirmed.

More than a year ago, the school district’s board of education decided to demolish the high school’s aging football stadium and replace it with a $3 million football-soccer-track complex. School officials want the complex to be ready by spring and remain basically on target.

“We are going to continue to look into (the theft) and at some point in time we will determine if we can find out what happened or we can’t,” McConnell said.

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