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Thieves stole a lot of bronze and copper from a heavy machinery repair facility on the East Side over Labor Day weekend –

several thousand dollars worth, police and a shop foreman say.

The burglars cut a hole in the roof at MRC Technologies, on Roberts Avenue, to make off with the metal, which included 600 pounds of copper wire and 50 feet of copper ground cables that also weighed about 600 pounds.

Thefts of copper and other metals are not uncommon, but the size of this heist was unusually large.

“We’ve probably been hit four or five times this year. The last couple of times they just about cleaned us out,” said foreman Rick Janiszewski.

Janiszewski said some materials were too heavy to steal, but he thought the burglars knew what they were looking for and may have struck the facility before.

“These guys are slick. It doesn’t seem that we’re able to keep them out of here,” he said.

The burglars left behind bolt cutters, flashlights and other tools used in the break-in, which investigators are using as evidence. Police checked with local junkyards to see if the stolen bronze had been peddled there, with owners promising to notify them if the bronze or copper is brought in.

Ten machines were missing ground wires.

“They cut them off and take them away, and we can’t replace them fast enough,” Janiszewski said.

Making matters worse is the lost time needed to repair or replace what was broken or stolen.

Owner Jim Leimkuehler said police have indicated they are limited in what they can do to track down the culprits because they can’t devote too much time to break-ins. He also said thieves caught stealing metal to be sold as scrap have sometimes received a slap on the wrist.

“It’s kind of pathetic,” Leimkuehler said of the police and judicial responses.

Other businesses in the area have also been broken into, Janiszewski said, one as recently as about two weeks ago.

MRC Technologies is in the process of installing security cameras. Motion alarms once in place were unreliable because small animals frequently set them off, Janiszewski said.

The specialized heavy-duty business, which includes bridge cranes capable of lifting up to 40 tons, can’t easily relocate despite the problematic location.

“I’d like it to stop because this is people’s lifeblood here,” Janiszewski said. “I would like them caught. Something’s got to be done.”

email: hglick@buffnews.com and msommer@buffnews.com