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Thief Injured Attempting To Steal Copper Wire From School

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Gary-Nelson-600x450 Gary Nelson
Gary Nelson has been a member of the CBS4 News team since Septem...
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MIAMI GARDENS (CBS4) – A thief apparently looking to steal copper from equipment on the roof of a Miami-Dade school fell more than two stories, a debilitating plunge that left him unable to walk, apparently with a broken hip or leg.

The hapless Spiderman was captured by security cameras at Charles Wyche Elementary School in Miami Gardens.  He arrives, wearing a ski mask, and begins to arrange ropes he’s carrying for a climb up the outside wall of the school to the roof, more than two stories above.   Moments later a second camera angle shows the man falling to the ground – a drop of more than 25 feet – where he begins to writhe in pain.  The intruder dragged himself out on to a walkway and attempted to stand up, but immediately fell back down.  He then dragged himself on his belly out of the school, pushing a pair of bolt cutters in front of him.

“He was trying to get on the roof of the school to commit copper theft,” said schools police Sergeant Ivan Silva.  “As you can see from the video, he’s not the most skillful burglar.”

“He sustained what we believe is a significant injury,” said schools police Chief Charles Hurley.  “Someone knows who he is.  We’re asking the community to help us identify him.”

Hurley said a family member or acquaintance would have to have noticed the serious injury, and the would-be thief almost certainly sought medical treatment.  Police hope someone who came in contact with the man will see news media accounts of the incident, put two and two together, and call the cops.

Hurley said copper theft has become a major national security and public safety issue.

“It is a billion dollar a year business.  Thieves are stealing copper from utility poles, air conditioning units, school equipment, even churches,” Hurley said.

The thief at Wyche elementary school apparently doesn’t have a future in mountain climbing.  He got away not just crippled but empty-handed.  None of the equipment containing copper on the school roof was damaged or disturbed, leading investigators to believe he fell while trying to pull himself onto the roof.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.

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