$30 copper theft puts dent in business

Published 08/29 2013 11:56AM

Updated 08/29 2013 12:02PM

CHAMPAIGN -- A business owner is out thousands of dollars. Copper was stolen from his equipment. It happened Monday at Cheese & Crackers in the 1700-block of West Kirby. WCIA-3's Megan Brilley has the details.

They got away with just a little copper, but did a lot of damage. The copper was stolen from a compressor out back. It's something which keeps all the cheese inside cold. When it was ripped apart, so was the business.

"We had to haul everything out of the cases and hundreds of pounds of cheese and meat."

That's after owner Bart Basi got the call someone ripped copper from the outside compressor. When it stopped running, the temperature inside started to rise. It forced Basi to throw out thousands of dollars worth of cheese.

"In this store, you can't buy it if you don't see it."

Not only did it hurt business, it hurt his wallet too. He started adding up all the expenses; $10,000 to repair the compressor, $5,000+ in lost product. Basi has a $20,000 bill all because someone stole $30 in copper.

"You know, if you needed thirty bucks that bad, come into my store. I'll give you thirty bucks! It hurt. I'm raising a family. I live here in town. This is not like someone stole ten dollars out of my wallet. This is a big thing."

Cheese & Crackers now has outdoor security cameras and a wire cage on the compressor. Basi is trying to look on the bright side, but the hole in his wallet is saying otherwise.

"No one got hurt. The only injury was money. That money was unpleasant. It hurt in a different sense."

Police say they're adding patrols in the area and took fingerprints off the compressor. They hope to make an arrest soon.

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