Rooftop thieves hit Franklin store

At least four people wearing ski masks cut a 4-foot-by-4-foot hole in the roof of a Franklin home improvement store to steal copper plumbing and wiring materials but were scared off, police said.

Franklin police are investigating an attempted burglary at Lowe’s, located off U.S. 31, between 1 and 2 a.m. Thursday. About 5 a.m., Lowe’s employees saw buckets full of copper plumbing and wire in an aisle of the store then noticed a hole in the roof, Franklin Police Chief Tim O’Sullivan said.

A similar theft happened in 2014, when thieves also cut a hole in the roof to steal copper wire.

The two break-ins have similarities in how the thieves entered the store, but police think they were done by separate groups, O’Sullivan said.

On Thursday, the thieves climbed up the access ladder on the east side of the building, which leads to the roof, O’Sullivan said. There, they cut into the metal roof, dropped onto one of the shelves, then down to the floor, he said.

Police believe the thieves were in the store for about an hour and were scared off by an officer who drove by, O’Sullivan said. The thieves used a ladder from inside the store to climb up to the roof to get back out, police said.

O’Sullivan said surveillance video shows four people, but all wore ski masks and gloves and were dressed in black. No getaway vehicle was caught on security cameras outside the store, he added.

Police are investigating what was stolen from Lowe’s, he said. The thieves left buckets of copper wire in the aisle. He said investigators suspect they couldn’t figure out how to get the items back out of the store.

Lowe’s does not have a cost estimate for how much damage was done to the store, O’Sullivan said. The store manager was not available Thursday.

Police have collected evidence and are reviewing security footage, O’Sullivan said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Lt. Pete Ketchum with the Franklin Police Department at 346-1141 or the tip line at 346-1100.