Copper Thefts Hit Hard

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Walk through the brand new Hamaknockers restaurant in Panacea and you'll see an owner who's really proud of his hard work.

Michael Lowe, owner of Hamaknockers, said, "The business is going real well. We're open now. This is our fourth day."

But thieves struck Michael Lowe's business before he opened his doors. They pulled apart his electric meter, yanking out the copper and leaving him in the dark with an $800 bill for rewiring. It was a bit of a setback.

Michael Lowe said, "Yeah, it did a little bit. It took a day to get power back on and then of course there's the expense of the electricians to come out and run new wires and stuff."

Lowe's restaurant is just one of 11 buildings hit possibly by the same criminal. The old Oaks Restaurant was gutted and left with bills totaling $8,000.

There is more trouble for realtors trying to sell these houses after each of their electric boxes suffered the same fate. Next door neighbors say the only witness here may have been a dog which heard something going on.

Penny Glaser, next door neighbor, said, "My dog heard something and he was facing against the back that way instead of the front door and I thought it might have been a squirrel. The next day there was two sheriff cars and two investigators, four deputies and two investigators over there looking."

In all 11 cases, sheriff's deputies are searching for a suspect. They're asking anyone with information to call 850-926-0828.