Clovis Police believe the theft took place sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. The thieves stole enough copper wire to cover a large portion of the Buchanan High School complex. The soccer fields, the varsity baseball field, and the portables at nearby Garfield Elementary are all without lights.
When youth soccer coach Bernd Ludwig arrived at Buchanan High School for practice Thursday night, he had no idea the lights weren't working. That is, until he saw this sign, and flipped the switch.
Coach Bernd Ludwig said, "It's a bad deal. We have like 15 kids coming in, parents driving them out here, trying to have a little practice and now we can't do anything about it."
After alerting parents, Coach Ludwig and his team moved to nearby Dry Creek Elementary where his players could practice under working lights.
Teresa Sophocleous said, "I mean, it's really, it's amazing to me that I'm thinking that somebody actually had to think about it, and say let's go steal the lights from the children's playground. I mean, it's just crazy."
The theft was discovered Wednesday night by another soccer team. They used car headlights to illuminate the field. Other teams decided to move up practice, during daylight hours.
Clovis Police estimate the thieves got away with 15-hundred feet of copper wire.
Calli Biaggi said, "Which is going to cost the unified district about $50 thousand to replace."
Investigators say the best way to ward off copper wire theft, is to report it.
Biaggi said, "Usually most city workers are not going to be working past 4:30 in the afternoon and you know the thieves are smart enough to wear helmets and vests that look like they're working, but they can call it in and we will investigate any suspicious activity."
And while Clovis Unified officials are working to get the lights fixed, some fear the problem will only get worse.
District officials say they have hired a contractor and expect the lights will be back on within a few days.
In the meantime, teams will either have to schedule earlier practices, or go someplace else.