There has to be an easier — and legal — way of finding scrap metal.

Last week, a man and woman were taken into custody for allegedly stealing copper wire from the air conditioning unit atop a school building in North Memphis, Tenn., On August 3, according to a news report first aired on the local CBS affiliate WREG.

Officers were called to the school around 8 a.m., where a man and woman were seen climbing off the roof of the building with a bag of cut copper.

School security officers were alerted to the two trespassers. They met the suspects at the scene after being advised that individuals were on top of a school building, no maintenance was scheduled, and no one was supposed to be there.  

After an inspection, officers reported that an HVAC unit on the school’s roof was damaged and missing copper wire.


According to police, both suspects admitted on body camera footage to being on top of the school building and stealing the copper wire. The suspects were identified as Charles Birse and Takaso Richardson.

Apparently, during an inventory of a bag containing the stolen copper, an officer also located a small bag of what appeared to be marijuana, along with a small black pouch with a crack pipe, two syringes, a spoon, and a bottle of Narcan.

Birse allegedly admitted the marijuana was his, and the two were also charged with drug paraphernalia.

Birse reportedly waved his rights and admitted to being on the property uninvited and stealing the copper wire from the unit on the school building. Richardson refused to give a statement at the time.

A school representative manager advised authorities that damage to the school’s HVAC appeared beyond repair and that a new unit was estimated to cost more than $10,000. Birse was charged with theft of property $10,000-$60,000, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He is being held on a $10,000 bond.

Richardson was charged with theft of property $10,000-$60,000 and possession of drug paraphernalia. She was released on her own recognizance.

They are both set to appear in court this morning, Mon., August 7, at 9 a.m.