KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
March 17, 2023
By Natalie Cook Clark
A Katy dermatologist has had copper wiring stolen from her business in Fort Bend County three times in the last year and a half. She now feels her practice is being targeted. Repairs have cost over $75,000.
Left: A thief steals copper wiring from Cinco Ranch Dermatology in 2021. Right: Sawed off metal casing from last week's theft. Photos courtesy of Dr. Kelly Connor.
Dr. Kelly Connor moved her dermatology practice, Cinco Ranch Dermatology to their current location (23050 Westheimer Parkway) not long before the freeze of 2021. And that’s when the problems started. They had the copper wiring stolen from the electrical pole right before the freeze and then again right after.
Theft Still Occurred After Taking Precautions
Dr. Connor and her office manager husband have taken precautions. They have cameras and even paid for surveillance for 6 months. Most copper wiring on electrical poles is encased with PVC piping, which can be easily cut to access the metal. They paid to cover their wiring in a metal encasing.
“We went a while without a problem and thought it was over until last week,” says Dr. Connor. “They stole the copper Wednesday morning around 4:00 a.m.”
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Katy Dermatologist Worries for Patients
Dr. Connor and her practice had to cancel and move 80 appointments and send their 20 employees home (with pay) Wednesday because of having no power.
“We had to cancel business because we had no power,” says Dr. Connor. “We had people who had driven in from College Station or Sealy, so it was very unfortunate for them.”
They found another location to operate out of last Thursday and were able to be back in their office by Friday, but Dr. Connor worries for her patients.
“Sometimes patients don’t reschedule, or things fall through the cracks like we had a patient with skin cancer who had difficulty scheduling an appointment,” says Dr. Connor. I couldn’t stop thinking about finding him a time to reschedule and get taken care of.”
“Like the other times, we filed a police report through Fort Bend County Sherriff’s Office and sent in videos,” says Dr. Connor. “So far we haven’t heard anything.”
Fears Business is Being Targeted
Dr. Connor fears that her business is being targeted. They are in a center and their neighboring businesses haven’t experienced this problem. The electrical pole that services Cinco Ranch Dermatology is tucked back covered by some trees and near a fence. It is more out of sight and allows thieves the chance to hide while stealing the copper.
“They used a saw to cut through the metal casing,” explains Dr. Connor. “It was loud and I’m sure the nearby homes heard it but probably didn’t know what the sound was.”
This job took about 40 minutes. In video footage you can see where they parked and went in, but they took precautions by covering their identities.
Costly Repairs Total $75,000
Repairs have been costly. The first theft resulted in a $22,000 fee and then the second time was $25,000 because they chose the metal encasing. The most recent theft resulting in the practice paying $27,000 because prices have gone up.
This crime continues to be a problem in the Katy area and the U.S. in general as it is linked to rise of scrap metal prices. This is the same reason that catalytic converter theft continues to be a problem because of the selling of precious metals like palladium and platinum.
According to authorities, a pound of copper can sell for three to four dollars a pound. A heist like this job would have made a few thousand dollars.