Windsor

Four arrested for copper thefts at Sarnia Bay Marina

Another round of thefts took place while the first four were locked up.

'There's no way this could have been done in a few nights'

There is thousands of dollars in damage at Sarnia Bay Marina after copper wire was stripped and stolen from under the docks. (Sarnia Police Service)

As the Sarnia Bay Marina got ready for the boating season, they realized someone had stolen hundreds of pounds of copper wire from under the docks. 

Sarnia police set up surveillance to see if they could catch the culprits in action. 

And then they did — four people were caught early Friday morning as they approached the Sarnia Bay Marina with cutting tools in hand. 

"We were surprised to see the damage once we were given access," said Const. Giovanni Sottosanti. 

"We don't know exactly the period of time this has been going on. There's no way this could have been done in a few nights."

Sottosanti said the damage is so extensive, there will be lengthy repairs ahead for the marina, which is owned and operated by the City of Sarnia. 

"We're working with the city to see what we can do to remedy this," said Sottosanti. "It could be doing more surveillance [or] working with the local agencies that take this metal."

Because the runs of copper wire have to be continuous for safety reasons, a patch repair isn't possible. The entire run will need to be replaced. In some places, Sottosanti said the thieves "didn't know what they were cutting" and also cut through water lines. 

There is $280,000 in electrical damage alone — and that doesn't include the repair to the water lines or the dock decking.

Sottosanti said it's not the first time copper thefts have taken place in the city, noting that the old general hospital, once condemned for abestos, was a place where thieves took copper wiring "almost 24/7." Some copper has been stolen from Sarnia parks recently as well. 

Four people have been arrested and charged with break and enter, mischief over $5,000 and possession of break in instruments. Two of the four were also charged with possession of a controlled substance.

They spent Easter weekend in custody — but the marina was broken into again by another set of culprits while the four were locked up. 

"They caused more damage by stripping more copper wire from the damage," said Sottosanti. "So obviously it's not just those four people we've arrested."

Sarnia police and the city of Sarnia are deciding what to do next to "fortify" the marina against thefts.

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