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Copper theft at school site remains unsolved

LAWRENCEVILLE - A theft earlier this month of copper piping that was to be used in the construction of Lovin Elementary School remains unsolved.

Meanwhile, the plumbing company contracted to install the pipes has suffered the loss. Not only does such a theft create a job delay, but the price of copper has doubled since the construction started, said Dennis Adams, the vice president of McLeroy Plumbing Services.

The value of the stolen copper - $17,000 - is the cost necessary to replace the materials, Adams said. Although he said he could not say exactly how much the materials weighed, he said he guessed it was about three tons.

"I can't imagine where someone would go with that much stuff," Adams said.

Gwinnett County School Police reported a burglary happened at the school construction site between 5 p.m. Oct. 6 and 6:30 a.m. Oct. 9. To get to the materials, someone cut the chain on the gate to get into the site and then cut through a metal bar on the door of the storage trailer that held the materials.

It also appears as if a large truck backed up to the trailer, the police report states.

Construction site theft is a problem that has plagued contractors working in Gwinnett County, Adams said.

"In talking with our peers, it appears to be pretty common," he said.

Adams knows of at least three other contractors who have suffered thefts at job sites. Some of those thefts have also occurred at school construction sites.

None of the materials have been recovered from the theft at Lovin. The school police continue to investigate the incident.