Renton police confirmed that officers responded to two calls Wednesday of copper thefts at two businesses that were near each other. In each case, the damage caused by the thefts broke air conditioning units at the businesses, forcing them to close or reorganize appointments that had been set up.
At least two businesses were hit, but the owners of each are concerned that other businesses could have been hit.
Dr. Princy Rekhi of Highland Dental Center says not having the air conditioning in his office was a bit of a problem at first. “It was getting hotter and hotter in the office (and we) didn't realize what had happened....all of the copper piping that goes from the units to the building was gone.”
On Monday, the AC was working and the thermostat was cool, but Rekhi says that wasn't the case last Wednesday when he discovered the problem. It meant reworking appointments and effectively meant that any dental work at the Renton location was done until the issue was fixed.
It all happened during the height of the heatwave after copper thieves chopped off locks to an enclosure and hacked out copper wire from his AC units.
“It's crazy, especially when the estimate for the copper was $100.” Who said this?
Rekhi’s office was up and running Monday after shuffling appointments and keeping staff cool with fans.
Rekhi wasn't alone. Chris Spahn runs a charity, Birthday Dreams, next-door to Rekhi’s dental practice throwing homeless children birthday parties with donated gifts. It kept going despite having no AC. “It was really hot!”
Spahn said last week her favorite toy room – which is filled with donated gifts -- felt more like a steam room.
“It was really hot. Our interns and employees were in here getting all the gifts for the birthday parties. You can't not give a birthday party so...”
Kate Schottman owns Sunset Animal Hospital, a few minutes from the dental and charity offices, and says she was hit by the copper thieves also last Wednesday. “It was 104 in the parking lot,” Schottman said.
Schottman said when she measured the temperature at its peak outside her offices.
Schottman's animal hospital lost AC as well, so she was forced to cut appointments when temps were too much for people and pets.
She says the crime came right after she sealed off a socket that was a de facto charging station for anyone.
“I thought it might be malicious action by the people who had been using our electricity.,” Schottman said.
She admits that she has reopened access to the power socket.
“It means I’m going to leave the electricity available … scared they’ll do more damage if they can’t access it.”
Rekhi says he’s simply glad to have AC back. “We went from 90 degrees to a nice 70 degrees and I
like the office cold.”
Some of the businesses in Renton say they have put in cameras and added other security measures. They’ve also notified police and are working with them on the investigation, we did look up crime stats surrounding this address for the last 14 days and there have been eight property crimes in that time.
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