Thieves for a third time have stolen copper from the University of Colorado's biotechnology building construction site, even after contractors hired around-the-clock guards and installed security cameras.
Officials are still tallying how much copper wiring was stolen from the construction site, said CU police spokeswoman Molly Bosley. But, she said, at least $2,000 worth of tools were swiped during the burglary incident that authorities are investigating. The incident at CU is part of a continuing, nationwide problem as the value of scrap copper has risen to an all-time high, prompting a flurry of thefts. The tools and electrical wire recently stolen from CU were taken from a subcontractor's storage area, according to Megan Rose, spokeswoman for CU's Facilities Management. Last summer, in two separate instances, copper wiring was stolen from the biotechnology construction site on CU's east campus. The theft amounted to $30,000. A spokeswoman for JE Dunn, the contractor building the $194 million structure, said last winter that they beefed up security with the overnight guards and security cameras. But, now, the company is being coy about its security efforts, simply saying they've been increased. "JE Dunn is cautious about publicizing their security measures as they don't want thieves to know what's in place and what they need to get around," said Rose. "They have increased building security since the incident and will continue working closely with the CU Police Department." JE Dunn -- not the university -- is responsible for covering the cost of the lost equipment, according to CU officials. "The construction company is liable for securing the area," said CU-Boulder spokesman Bronson Hilliard. The incident is believed to have happened overnight on July 19 and was reported to police on July 20. Dale Barrow, co-owner of Boulder-based Western Aluminum Recycling, said the scrap value of copper is ranging from $3.30 to $3.50 a pound -- and at one point this year soared to $4. To prevent buying stolen metals, Barrow said that the shop took an extra step by installing cameras at the weigh stations and near where people get paid for the metals. "Law enforcement can access our video equipment," he said. The shop has other measures in place to deter heavy metal thefts, such as recording the potential seller's license plate number and requiring photo identification. Barrow said they turn that information over to police if they are investigating a suspect involved in metal thefts. CU's biotechnology building -- which is being funded by a mix of donations, state money and research funds -- is scheduled to be completed in March 2012. Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or firstname.lastname@example.org