EAST ALTON, Ill. (KMOV.com) -- Authorities say thieves climbed to the top of the East Gate Plaza in East Alton over the weekend to strip the center's AC units of their copper.
Several businesses in the plaza are vacant and nobody was inside when the theft occurred. A manager at the plaza called police and reported a problem after the air conditioning in the plaza stopped.
Police believe the thieves climbed the roof of the plaza in the dark of the night, scaling the side of the East Gate Plaza and stripping the copper coils from three or four of the buildings' air conditioning units.
It's estimated that the repairs to the units will cost property owners around a thousand dollars, although thieves got away with much less.
"They were five ton units, which means they probably got about $30 to $40 worth of copper," said East Alton Police Chief Dwynn Isringhausen.
Chief Isringhausen says they've been in touch with both of the metal buying facilities in East Alton, asking them to be on the lookout for the stolen scrap.
Isringhausen also says he has increased officer patrols along the business district and is now in discussions to add security cameras along Lewis and Clark Boulevard.
Area patrons say they weren't surprised the strip was targeted with the lack of tenants in the area.
"All the businesses are empty so probably not a whole lot of surveillance, not a whole lot of foot traffic, so they could probably do it right now if they wanted to," said nearby business patron Daniel Smith.
Anyone with information on the copper thefts is asked to call East Alton Police at (618)-259-6212.