Copper thieves damage Expocentre air conditioners, steal fire station's

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SHAWNEE CO., Kan. (WIBW) -- Shawnee county commissioners approved spending thousands of dollars in an emergency purchase after copper thieves struck near the Kansas Expocentre.

Facilities Maintenance Manager Bill Kroll told commissioners thieves destroyed the AC unit on the south side of Ag Hall in an attempt to steal the system for copper.

In the meantime, AG Hall will keep cool with a rental system for about $10,000 a month. The replacement costs just under $50,000.

The thieves did make off two AC units hooked up to the old fire station next door. As replacements for those, Commissioners also approved purchasing two new 3.5 ton units, complete with coils and security cages, for a little more than $8,100.

Kroll explained that taxpayers will only pay for the $10,000 deductible.

The Shawnee Co. Sheriff's Office released surveillance images from the thefts. (See below) Investigators say witnesses described the SUV as an early 2000's Chevrolet Blazer towing a small trailer.

The suspect appeared to be a tall, white man wearing jean shorts, a white tank top, and a baseball cap.

Commission Chair Kevin Cook says copper theft is a problem county wide.

"It's Nationwide actually at this time," Kroll said, "Copper the price of it just kept going up and up and up and if you're a homeowner and if you're condensing unit is just sitting in a nice secluded spot - you're a target."

Kroll expects the newAC units to be installed by October 1, 2018.

Anyone with information about the thefts and criminal damage is asked to call the Det. Ryan Myers at 785-251-2200 or email him at ryan.myers@snco.us