MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Laws are in place cracking down on copper thefts, but are they working? As a new Boys & Girls Club of Greater Memphis site in Oakhaven found out, the market for copper and air-conditioning units is still white hot.
"They actually took everything out of the electrical panel. There is nothing left," said Vincent Borello, President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis.
The thieves hit over the weekend, taking everything of value.
"They actually snipped the main lines, some of it they pulled the wire," said Borello.
The Club was planning to spend $20,000 to fix up a new building for the Oakhaven site, now that bill looks like it could be $100,000.
Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee have passed laws in recent years to toughen up on the selling of copper. Among the changes, metal yards and dealers are prohibited from paying for copper with cash.
Dealers also can't accept copper that appears to be stolen.
"We have turned down thousands of pounds of material," said Larry Walker, who runs Mid-Town Auto Parts and Salvage, Inc.
"We turn away probably 8-10 customers a day, they are going somewhere," Walker said, "we don't know where."
He added, "There is always a market for it. Until they find that market, there is always going to be a way for a thief to make money."
It's a fact that frustrates workers at the Boys & Girls Club site in Oakhaven.
"Who is really profiting from that, because we certainly are not going to profit from the fact that they violated us like this," said Evelyn Young, Executive Director of the Oakhaven site.