Thieves target South Bay elementary school 3 times: Metal, wires stolen from air conditioning units

Thefts occurred at Lauderbach Elementary

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - Hundreds of children at a South Bay school may be returning to class in two weeks without any air conditioning.

10News learned thieves raided more than half a dozen air conditioning units at Lauderbach Elementary in Chula Vista and stole more than $15,000 worth of materials.

Police said the same burglars have struck three times in three weeks.

On Tuesday, 10News saw a sign on campus that reads the first day of school is July 24. Now, students may have to endure some sweltering days after burglars targeted their ground and rooftop air conditioning units.

Chula Vista police Lt. Lon Turner told 10News, "Ultimately, the losers in this situation are obviously the children that might have to come back to school with no air conditioning."

Turner said the thieves did not leave much behind on the commercial grade units.

"Some ground floor A/C units were stripped completely bare of the copper tubing inside of them and the electrical wires," he said.

For thieves, scrap metal might as well be gold. 10News checked and the going rate these days is about $1.50 a pound.

"It's an expensive piece of metal that will bring in hundreds of dollars for those who steal them," said Turner.

But for taxpayers, each air conditioning unit will cost thousands to replace.

"Obviously, this is a series and trend related and we're looking to get these guys," said Turner.

In a separate case, thieves also stole a water backflow system from the county Health and Human Services building worth about $3,000. Again, taxpayers are paying to replace it.

Police said the thieves left behind some incriminating evidence that is being checked for DNA. Police would not elaborate further.

Anyone with any information is asked to call Chula Vista police.

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