Copper thieves hit Wichita Community Theatre

Carly Willis/KSN news

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Earlier this week, the Wichita Community Theatre became a victim of copper theft for the second time in five years.

Thieves entered an unlocked back gate, which was purposely left unlocked for a meter reader. Actors came in for a final dress rehearsal for the production, “Reading the Obits” when they were greeted with scorching temperatures on set. One older male actor became sick to his stomach from the heat.

“They plugged in fans, but that’s not as helpful as an air conditioner,” theater president Mary Lou Phipps-Winfrey said.

It was discovered the thieves stole copper out of the A/C unit behind the building. The group was unable to make the repair, which resulted in making the tough decision to cancel the Wednesday evening production.

A Facebook post detailed: “Due to thieves stealing our copper from our AC units again, we will have to postpone our opening for Reading the Obits. Hopefully we will be up and running tomorrow. Sadly this happened to us five years ago. Thank you for your patience as we deal with this. We will keep you posted here.”

Today, a repairmen from Moody’s Heating and Air Conditioning said the amount stolen by thieves probably amounted to $10, yet it costs the theater $2,200 for the repair. They see copper theft situations like this a couple times a month.

“A few donations may come in, but we’re just going to have to find the money. That’s all there is to it,” Phipps-Winfrey said.

A Wichita Police Department investigator came out and took photos following the theft. Phipps-Winfrey believes that due to the randomness of the crime, they may never know who stole from them.

But tonight, the show goes on. “Reading the Obits” resumes its scheduled performances beginning on Thursday, July 20 at 8:00 p.m. Phipps-Winfrey wrote the play herself. A $10 discounted ticket will be offered to those in attendance.

Additionally, Moody’s is installing a cage around the new unit to protect from future theft.


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