Workers describe damage of metal thefts

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DECATUR – Workers at a Decatur strip mall described the damage done by metal thefts.

Police said the strip mall that includes Rural King on Mount Zion Road was targeted by thieves who tore apart air compressor units on the roof to access copper coiling inside. Rural King assistant manager Jessica McCollum recounted finding the damage Thursday.

“We got a call from the heating company telling us we might want to go up on the roof and check our (air compressor unit) because the strip mall had been damaged,” McCollum said. “Me and our shop gentleman went up there. Our (unit) was okay, but as I was looking down, everyone else’s was hit.”

Manager Chris Dalbey said the thefts could have been dangerous.

“That’s live electricity,” Dalbey said. “I don’t know how the power was shut off or anything like that, but it could have been a lot worse.”

Nationally, instances of metal theft decreased between 2012 and 2014, according to reports based on insurance claims. In 2014, the most recent year for which data was available, Illinois ranked 20th in claims for damage from metal thieves.

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