Two Broad Street restaurants had to take time off Tuesday after copper thieves made off with about 30 feet of water pipe.
The Broad Street Cafe was able to reopen about 5 p.m., but the neighboring Watts Grocery remained closed until Wednesday morning.
Watts Grocery bar manager Laurabelle Sacrinty said the theft was discovered when an employee came in this morning.
"Water was gushing everywhere," Sacrinty said. "It was a disaster."
Durham Police spokeswoman Kammie Michael said the theft was reported shortly after 10 a.m. Officers found that copper pipe worth about $200 had been taken out from under the building at 1116 Broad Street.
By then, a city water crew had been dispatched to cut the water off so plumbers called in by the affected businesses could make repairs. Besides the two restaurants, the High Strung Music store occupies the building.
Sacrinty said Watts Grocery's water was operating normally by about 1 p.m. But since the restaurant had already cancelled dinner reservations and was facing a cleanup job, it was decided to wait until Wednesday to reopen.
"We're definitely open tomorrow," said Sacrinty.
Police have the case under investigation, and no charges have been filed, according to Michael. Anyone with information is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 919-683-1200.
Metal theft, particularly copper, has been a major problem in Durham and nationwide for several years, Michael said.