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Copper thieves narrowly miss inhaling poisonous gas

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Updated: 10/17/2012 1:08 pm
HENDERSON, Nev. – Copper thieves who stole more than 500 feet of copper pipe from a cold storage facility in Henderson could have cost themselves their lives if they had cut the wrong pipe.

Henderson Police were called to Americold storage at 830 E. Horizon Drive near Boulder Highway Tuesday afternoon after workers discovered thieves had climbed up on the roof and stolen 500 to 700 feet of copper pipe.

Fortunately the thieves did not tamper with other insulated pipes at the business which contain ammonia gas used for refrigeration at the temperature-controlled warehouse.

“The thieves were very lucky they didn’t cut the wrong pipe or they likely would have died from the ammonia gas,” Henderson Police Capt. Dane Mattoon said. “Copper theft remains an issue not only in our community but throughout the entire country.”

The theft likely occurred late Monday night or early Tuesday morning when the thieves climbed up onto the roof to steal the copper. It was not known if the thieves specifically avoided pipes that contained the poisonous ammonia gas.

Many times thieves target street lights, communication towers and construction sites. In recent years, thieves have targeted foreclosed homes and air conditioning units. The FBI has called copper theft “a threat to public safety and to U.S. critical infrastructure.”

Anyone with information in this case is asked to call the Henderson Police Department at (702) 267-4750 or, to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at (702) 385-5555 or visit www.crimestoppersofnv.com.
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