Copper thieves hit Flying Star in Corrales

Updated: 05/06/2014 5:21 PM | Created: 05/06/2014 1:01 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Copper thieves have forced a popular Corrales restaurant to shut down – it’s the second time they’ve been hit in two weeks.

Managers of the Flying Star restaurant in Corrales estimate the damage at $15,000 – on top of another $15,000 from the first time. It’s much more when you figure in lost business and lost work hours for the wait staff and the cooks. What did the thieves get out of it? Not much. A hundred bucks, maybe, on the black market, but it costs thousands to replace all of that copper. It’s conduit – refrigeration piping. Without it,  food is spoiling and the restaurant is losing even more money.

To a lot of people the Flying Star is more than a restaurant – it’s a way of life.

“ I was going to treat myself, going for my everything bagel toasted with cream cyeese with green chile turkey sausage,” said  a disappointed  Dileen Dean. “This is the only place you can get it. If you want to start your day off right, what you do is you go to the Flying Star!”

“I’m horrified,” said Cheryl Mitchell, who was planning on meeting friends for coffee and a light lunch. “I’m very distressed for a local business to undergo that. The thought of that kind of vandalism – it’s senseless.”

Copper theft really took off in the Great Recession and it now appears to be stronger than ever. Despite efforts by local governments to make it harder to sell the stolen stuff, the black market seems to be thriving.

“The impact is huge to a lot of people, and it’s all for less than a hundred dollars in scrap metal,” said Flying Star manager Jeff Palmer. “That’s what’s really unfortunate about this type of situation.”

Palmer said he plans to re-open the restaurant as soon as possible. A lot of police officers think the copper is being sold outside the metro area, where record-keeping and ID checks by recycling companies are mandatory.

Albuquerque police are investigating both cases and urge anyone with information to contact (505)-242-2677.

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