ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Someone stole 64 copper pipes from the refrigeration system at the Phalen rink in St. Paul.

Now crews have to figure out how to replace it and get it ready for the start of the season.

“On each of these end caps here, we have 4-foot copper sections,” said Brad Meyer of St. Paul Parks and Recreation.

Sometime this past weekend, someone stole 64 copper pipes from the outdoor rink. The culprits cut them loose from its refrigeration system while park lights were off, something done out of respect for the neighborhood.

“The theft occurred by just being able to cut the tubing right off and taking the copper on the ends,” Meyer said.

Phalen is one of three refrigerated rinks in the city, opening before the rest of the outdoor rinks freeze over. About 15,000 people skate here every year.

The 256 feet of stolen copper are only worth a few hundred dollars to thieves, but it’s much more to replace.

“It’s 20,000 to 30,000 if we wanted to replace it with copper,” Meyer said. “It’ll cost us significantly less than that if we use the pex.”

Pex is non-metal pipe made from polyethylene. They’re testing it right now, hoping it can hold up to Minnesota’s extreme weather, and make the repairs in time for their normal Thanksgiving opening.

“We’re hopeful that we can meet that timeline, but depending on how repairs go, it might take a little longer,” Meyer said.

St. Paul police say the unusual shape of the pipes should catch somebody’s eye, so they’re talking to scrap yards.

If you have any information, please call 651-266-5565.

Frank Vascellaro