Thieves left hundreds of primary school students without access to a regular water supply yesterday, after they ripped out more than 18 metres of copper piping from underneath Frankton Primary School.
Twenty classrooms, the school hall, canteen and multiple toilet blocks were left dry, while only two drinking fountains worked on a day with a high of 26 degrees Celsius.
Although not all of the school was affected, a 20,000 litre water tanker was brought to provide drinking water for the children.
"We are going to have no water for a day at least," said Frankton Primary School caretaker Murray Ivory.
Principal Judy Dixon considered closing the school earlier in the day, but said they were managing.
Mr Ivory said he realised there was no water about 6am yesterday when he tried to put on a load of washing from the staffroom.
"I checked our toby top and it had been turned off. Then the minute I turned it on, there was just water gushing everywhere under the building and I realised we had a problem."
The thieves broke in through a door under the classroom and ripped off the wood panelling to drag the copper out.
Plumber Peter Hosking estimated the repair would cost about $3000.
Inspector Karen Henrikson said there had been a couple of incidents at the weekend when copper was being sought from private residences, but could not say whether they were related.
"These people don't care about the damage they cause. And what they get for it is a pittance compared to the cost of replacing and repairing."
Jonathan Rainer, of Scrap Palace in Frankton, said the thieves would have a hard time selling the product. He paid $7.40 for a kilo of copper, but not without identification.
"If you were a plumber and had a plumber's card for your piping, or a receipt for the new stuff you had going on, I'd pay $7.40 a kilo. Without that information I wouldn't buy it."
A metre of 25mm copper piping would equal roughly 1 kilo, making the stolen copper worth about $133.
Ms Henrikson said police were trying to build a relationship with scrap metal dealers. "With such a large amount we will email out to the scrap metal sellers, and ask them to advise whether anyone is coming in with the commodity."
- Waikato Times