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Alleged copper thief copped by coppers

Police made an arrest yesterday morning after a man was seen removing copper pipe and other copper materials from the Masonic building in Lowe Street.

Witnesses described seeing people acting suspiciously in the old Masonic building on several occasions recently during the day.

“On Friday we heard the sound of activity in the building and on Monday morning we saw someone walk out of the building with some materials,” one witness said.

A vehicle previously seen in the carpark at the rear of the hotel was seen there again mid-morning yesterday and police were called.

“A 37-year-old man was found to have a whole stack of copper pipes, taps and other copper fittings stacked up in the Masonic building and ready to go,” police said.

“He was arrested and charged with burglary and goes to court today.”

Police said at this stage the man had been charged with theft of copper materials from the old hotel building.

A car allegedly used in the thefts was seized by police. It had false number plates.

“Our inquiries are ongoing in relation to other similar copper theft incidents that involved the Hospice shop and law firm Wilson Barber and Co,” police said.

The roof of the Hospice charity shop leaked badly during the rain on Sunday night because copper roofing had been removed.

A lot of stock was lost.

Staff at Wilson Barber came into work one morning last week to find the rear of the first floor of their premises flooded.

“Someone had got into the roof void and removed copper water piping,” a staff member said.

Water that spilled from the pipes damaged a store of old law books, some dating back to 1840.

“Those books will probably have been damaged beyond repair and are irreplaceable.

“We had to get commercial cleaners in with dryers to dry the area out — that took six days — and a plumber to replace the copper piping that had been removed.”

UP ON THE Roof: Police and roofing workers on a roof near the carpark at the rear of The Gisborne Herald and the old Masonic Hotel building. Pictures supplied
Police swoop on a car parked in the carpark. A man allegedly in the process of removing stolen copper materials from the Masonic was arrested yesterday following a spate of copper thefts in the area. The car was seized.