Recent copper thefts will cost taxpayers $230,000

by: Erica Byfield Updated:

Vandals stripped copper from several libraries and recreation centers in DeKalb County and now taxpayers are on the hook for more than $200,000 in repairs.

A county spokesperson told Channel 2 Action News someone or a group of people damaged three library air conditioning units.

"I think it’s ridiculous because the library is for the public to help them because people can't afford computers all the time," DeKalb County resident Joann Waren said.

Channel 2's Erica Byfield reported library staff posted signs in the windows of the facilities alerting visitors to the closures because of vandalism.

"I'm coming here today to fill out applications for jobs and I feel like that’s what they should have did instead of stealing copper and go and sell it," Waren said.

All of the affected libraries are in southern section of the county: Flat Shoals, Redan-Trotti and Wesley Chapel.

Thieves first stole copper from the Wesley Chapel facility in May.

Library officials said they suspect that after crews made repairs, the same group or person came back in June.

"We are trying to take additional measures this second time around to make sure when it does reopen we don’t have this problem again," county library spokeswoman Janet Florence said.

Byfield learned repair costs for taxpayers would be $230,000 because along with the libraries, within the last month, someone stole copper from the air conditioning units from two recreation centers.

The most expensive fix is the Community Achievement Center. County spokesperson Burke Brennan said the repair cost for that building alone is $75,000 dollars.

Thieves also tampered with the air conditioning unit at the Redan Recreation Center.

Library leaders said they are working closely with the police.