Overnight copper theft closes Phoenix Starbucks

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PHOENIX -- A Phoenix Starbucks is crippled this morning after thieves ripped out copper piping outside the store overnight.

It happened at the busy intersection of Seventh and Missouri avenues. The store has been closed all morning because there is no running water.

Baristas have only been able to sell plain coffee, as opposed to the specialty drinks for which Starbucks is known.

Employees spent the morning stopping potential customers before they could go through the drive-through and explaining what happened.

Yetta Gibson talked to some customers who were left without their morning Starbucks fix. All of them seemed to be taking the situation in stride.

According to the Department of Energy, copper theft costs the country $1 billion per year. The Coalition Against Copper Theft says that is a conservative estimate.

The copper stolen from the Starbucks reportedly is worth about $100 on the street. The collateral damaged caused by theft will likely cost the business quite a bit more than that.

Metal theft, including copper heists, has been a consistent problem both here in Arizona and across the country for years.

Over the summer, the city of Mesa installed a special alarm system in an effort to deter would-be copper thieves.

Arizona law (ARS 44-1642) requires scrap metal dealers to keep a log of transactions of more than $25. That log is supposed to contain a photograph and description of the scrap metal involved, as well as the seller's description, signature, a photo, a fingerprint and a copy of his or her current driver license or ID. In addition, payment for the scrap metal has to be mailed to the seller at a physical address.

The law also says that scrap metal sellers cannot skirt the log requirements by breaking a load of scrap metal into a group of smaller transactions.