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Police: Lucky Copper Thieves Missed Poison Pipe

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File photo of copper (Photo by Nick Ansell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

File photo of copper (Photo by Nick Ansell – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — Police in Henderson say copper thieves stole more than 500 feet of copper tubing from the roof of a cold storage warehouse, but didn’t cut into a pipe carrying deadly ammonia gas.

Police spokesman Keith Paul said Wednesday that workers at the Americold storage plant discovered the overnight theft on Tuesday.

Police Capt. Dane Mattoon says that if the thieves cut the wrong pipe they might have died from the release of pressurized ammonia gas used for refrigeration in the temperature-controlled warehouse.

Paul put the retail value of the pilfered pipe at up to $10,000, but much less when sold for scrap.

Police say thieves sometimes strip copper wiring from street lights, communication towers and construction sites, and remove pipes from foreclosed homes and air conditioning units.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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