Copper Heist Closes Community Center

$20 theft causes $3,000 worth of damage.

By Andrew Tanielian
|  Monday, May 16, 2011  |  Updated 7:24 PM CDT
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Thieves stole $3,000 worth of copper from Fortress Youth Developmental Center in Fort Worth.

Andrew Tanielian, NBCDFW.com

Thieves stole $3,000 worth of copper from Fortress Youth Developmental Center in Fort Worth.

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A small copper heist will cost a Fort Worth community center thousands of dollars to repair.

The Fortress Youth Development Center said thieves caused nearly $3,000 worth of damage late Friday or early Saturday and knocked it off the power grid. The center estimates that the wiring was only worth about $20.

Electrician Brian Stone of Milestone Electric said the theft took about five minutes.

The copper wire that connects the power meter to the weather head near the roof was cut and stripped clean.

The weather head is the mushroom looking cap that connects copper wire from a building to a nearby power pole.

The theft forced the center to close its doors, shutting out the 65 children it serves.

Most of the children live under the national poverty line.

"We offer for them, give them, the tools they need to catapult themselves out of that generational cycle," said Stacy Kocur, Fortress spokeswoman.

The center offers services such as pre-kindergarten, after-school programs and summer programs.

Thirteen part-time workers had to stay home, too, forgoing being paid.

The loss of power also turned off the freezer in the kitchen, causing the food Fortress uses for hot after-school snacks and dinner to spoil.

"Everything we could salvage, we've already taken out and taken to our [home] freezers there," said Kocur.

"It'll be weird today after school for this place to be quiet," she said. "Usually around three, this place comes alive."

Fortress hopes to raise money for the $2,800 repair bill at a concert fundraiser that was already scheduled for this weekend in North Richland Hills.

"Yeah, it is serendipitous that we have that already on the calendar, and it's this coming Saturday," Kocur said.

Fortress said it does not know when it will reopen. Repair work on the center is complete, but it is still waiting to be reconnected to the grid, a process that can take up to two days.

The center's fundraiser is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday Center Point Church. It features Crosswinds from Plano and Backroads from Fort Worth. There is no cover charge, but the center is hoping for donations.

More: Fortress Youth Development Center

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