Copper stolen from local arts center, new law proposed

HAMILTON, OH (FOX19) - Look closely, and you see it: the cuts thieves made in the air conditioning unit at the Fitton Center for the Creative Arts in downtown Hamilton. The air conditioners have thousands of dollars in damage and employees here say thieves wanted the copper pipes that make up part of the unit.

Staffers also say the theft has happened twice in the last week.

"It's somewhat discouraging, especially I think for the contractor who spent all week repairing the damage from before, and it wasn't even in there a few days before it was taken again," says Jodi Fritsch.

Now, there's a chance the folks at Fitton will have to completely replace this unit, and that could cost close to 86 thousand dollars.

"We're also a non profit, and so it hurts a little bit and is very discouraging when we try to do some many positive things in the community and for the community," says Fritsch.

Copper theft has been big business in Greater Cincinnati, and now state Senator Bill Seitz has had enough. He wants laws to be stronger and is working with Butler County's Sheriff Richard Jones.

"Sheriff Jones said, let's require pictures of both the person selling the scrap, and of the scrap being sold because that would be very useful if these scrap yards would keep that for a year or two, and it would help the police interdict and find these thieves," says Seitz.

While he's working on making sure this doesn't happen to another community center, the folks at Fitton are looking at other ways to protect their property. They're considering new fencing, and other options.

"Just the amount of copper that they have taken might not seem significant, but the damage that they are doing and have done to us is," says Fritsch.

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