Beaumont Salvation Army on guard after copper theft

The Beaumont Salvation Army is pressing forward after a copper theft that left one of their air conditioning units out of commission. William Ener stayed the night at the Salvation Army Monday night, but when he walked into the chapel on Sunday, he walked into a wall of heat.

"We all walked in and it was very hot, very hot. Everybody in the whole building was sweating... so they opened the doors and turned on the fans that they had," Ener said.

Copper thieves damaged the air conditioning unit used to keep the chapel cool. Alan Gonzalez, the corps officer for the Salvation Army, says he's thankful the units for the rest of the building are still working but the damage couldn't come at a worse time. The organization is down to the last month of its budget year and even before the crime, the Beaumont corps was running a deficit.

"That money could be used for transitional housing or our shelter or our boys and girls club or our youth programs here, but now we have to divert that money in expenses that was not in our budget," said Gonzalez.

He says now the Salvation Army is going on the offensive. They'll be installing cages-like structures around the outdoor A/C units to prevent the damage from happening again. Detective Anthony Goudeau with the Beaumont Police Department handles copper thefts on a daily basis. He sees first hand the kind of repairs that are often necessary.

"For the amount of damage they're doing, just the release of freon costs more than what they're taking in copper," said Detective Goudeau.

He says 11 metal theft reports came in from over the Labor day weekend alone. Detective Goudeau recommends taking precautions like installing a pressure switch.

"That way, at least it'll go off and notify the alarm company... 'Hey, something is wrong here'... and we might be able to get out here in time to catch them," Goudeau said.

Those with any information on copper thefts are urged to call Crime stoppers at (409) 833-TIPS.


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