COURTESY OF BOARD OF WATER SUPPLY
Copper facing like this was stolen early Wednesday from the Kapahulu Avenue pumping station of the Board of Water Supply.
15 cases of metal theft reported
Police are asking for the public's help as brass and copper continue to go missing
Honolulu police are asking the public and metal recyclers to be on the lookout for copper thieves after several thefts across the island.
Police are investigating 15 cases of copper and brass thefts in the last two months, and made their first arrest Wednesday.
A witness spotted a suspected thief early Wednesday morning atop the Board of Water Supply's pumping station roof on Kapahulu Avenue apparently removing the copper facing. As of last night, police were seeking charges against the suspect.
Thieves stole about a mile of copper wiring last month from streetlights near the Ka Uka Boulevard exit of the H-2 freeway and the H-1/H-2 merge.
Businesses, schools and churches have also been hit by thieves taking copper rain gutters. (Areas include Kahala, Waipahu, Pearl City and Pearl Harbor.) Thieves have even raided the Moiliili Cemetery for its brass vases, police said.
Police are sending letters requesting recycling businesses to voluntarily assist by asking sellers of large amounts of copper and other high-priced metals for identification and other information (including birth date, driver's license number, address, phone number, license number, vehicle description and a description of items recycled or sold as scrap).
Some metal recyclers like Okuda Metals Inc. already require identification, address and vehicle license plate number from scrap metal sellers.
CrimeStoppers Coordinator Kim Capllonch is also asking the public to call police or CrimeStoppers "if anybody sees anybody suspicious in the middle of the night" in areas where they should not be.
"Be on the alert; be on the lookout," she said.
In the Kapahulu water pumping station case, a witness called 911 after seeing a man on the roof.
Police arrested a 43-year-old man for investigation of second-degree theft and trespassing at about 4 a.m.
Replacing the original copper facing with a cheaper material and repairing the roof will cost more than $5,000, said Board of Water Supply spokeswoman Su Shin.
"We're not going to put copper back up," she said. One roofing company charges $21 per lineal foot for 5- and 6-inch-wide copper fascia boards, three times more expensive than aluminum but longer-lasting.
Anyone with information on a possible theft is asked to call police at 911 or call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300 or *CRIME on a cell phone.