RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - The falling price of scrap metal is still not enough to keep thieves away. Vandals stole fifteen copper sheets from a familiar target over the weekend. The Rancho Mirage Public Library fell victim to theft for the second time in two years. "Why here? I mean if they wanted to steal copper, why here?" asked Renee Espar. The copper serves as decoration for the children's outdoor ampitheater.
"We really want to say, this kind of damage is damage to the people who use this library, that's what's really frustrating," said David Bryant, the library director. The recent thefts has visitors to the library worried about the overall safety of the community. "We think that this environment and this community is such a safe community, but yet people are stealing right off the walls of the library," said Jennifer Alling. "I'm really shocked."
This isn't the first time thieves have targeted the library. A life-size statue was stolen from the front of the building in March 2011. "We had lost a partially bronze sculpture that was also a memorial to a deceased resident and that was equally frustrating of course," said Bryant.
The library spent money from its general fund to replace the statue. It also plans to use money from the same fund to install more surveillance cameras and replace the copper sheets. The unwanted expense takes away from other improvement projects. "That's money that could go for programming, children's books, and other needs that we have, so add to the frustration list with that," said Bryant.
People are also frustrated because copper only trades for about $3.50 per pound. "All of us in the community donate money to this library so to steal from these panels, to get three dollars a pound, is absurd," said Cheryl MIller. "It's horrible."
The Riverside County Sheriff's department is investigating the theft.