Copper thieves caught in the act at St. Mary’s High School

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ST. LOUIS - Thieves ransacked a building on the campus of St. Mary's High School in south St. Louis over the weekend, grabbing all the copper they could get their hands on before they were interrupted.

"One of our coaches went over there and heard commotion in the building and immediately called police," said Mike England, president of St. Mary's High School. "Two gentlemen were walking out of the building when police showed up."

According to court documents, after a short chase, police arrested one of the suspected thieves, who was caught wearing a jacket from the school.

Dwight Lehr, 30, was charged with burglary, stealing, and property damage.

The building was the old orphanage on campus, used primarily as a locker room. Court documents show Lehr took copper gutters, copper piping and air conditioning units, removed roof tiles and busted out windows.

St. Mary's High School is in the Dutchtown area of south St. Louis. School President Mike England said they've made it their mission to make a positive difference in the community with several service projects annually and seeing the damage to their property energizes them to do even more.

England said he's working with city leaders to dream up more ways that the school can lift up the neighborhood around them.​