MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Some thieves who stole from a popular ice rink are still on the run.

Someone got away with more than 200 feet of copper pipes from the Phalen Recreation Center in St. Paul earlier this month. The city feared those pipes could cost tens of thousands of dollars to replace.

But now a local company is stepping in — and its solution should make the rink less of a target for future trouble.

A Costly Crime

A grinch tried to steal Christmas from families in St. Paul.

“The first weekend in November we had the theft at the Phalen rink,” said Brad Meyer of St. Paul Parks and Recreation.

The 64 stolen pipes were part of the rink’s refrigeration system. Thieves will only get a few hundred bucks for the copper, but it costs much more to replace.

“We thought it would cost us about $30-35,000 to refabricate all the copper and reinstall it,” Meyer said.

Now a local company is stepping in, so the 15,000 people who skate at the rink every year can get back on the ice.

“We decided we’d come up with a better solution for them so the copper doesn’t disappear again,” said Lynn Bishop of NAC Mechanical and Electrical Services.

Bishop says his crews will use PEX material (cross-linked polyethylene) instead of copper. It’s less expensive. It will cost around $10,000, but the company feels it’s worth it.

“We’re doing it for the kids,” Bishop said.

And future thieves take note: there’s no value to the replacements whatsoever, Bishop says.

While the rink won’t open this weekend, there will be plenty of time for families to use it before the Christmas holiday.

“We believe everything’s in stock at the factory, and it should be here shortly so we can get them back skating by the end of next week,” Bishop said.

The park’s lights are turned off each night as a courtesy to its neighbors, but that’s when the thieves struck.

If you know who took that copper, call police.


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