TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Thieves are targeting the city of Toledo, sneaking into the Water Distribution Building on Erie Street and making off with loads of valuable materials.
They've stolen so much, more than $5,000 in copper tubing on one occasion, that the department hired private security to keep watch.
Then the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association caught wind.
It reminded the city about a 2005 agreement between the union and Toledo that requires the city to hire Toledo Police for any short-term security assignments at city buildings.
"They did the right thing and started putting our people in the position of providing security," Dan Wagoner, TPAA President, said.
First two patrol officers were taken off the streets to stand watch at certain times. Now it's down to one.
But on-duty officers have been keeping tabs on the building for weeks.
Wagoner says this has eliminated the cost of private security and says there have been enough officers available to do it.
"There's been no documented cases where that officer would have been needed in another situation," Wagoner said.
Deputy Police Chief Derick Diggs says the agreement is impacting the number of officers on the streets.
Councilman D. Michael Collins agrees and says this puts a strain on an already short-staffed police force.
"I don't like that idea at all. I don't think it's the most effective use of manpower," Collins said.
He says the city can't afford to have police playing security guards. "It would be cheaper to have private security in this situation."
A police report indicates the suspects in one incident are likely ex-employees and appeared to have a key.
Police say the thefts are still under investigation.
Copyright 2011 WTOL. All rights reserved.
730 North Summit Street