The Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation into theft of copper wire and fittings from nearly a dozen air-conditioning units at Lake Elementary School, school officials said Wednesday.

School authorities called maintenance workers Tuesday morning when staff couldn’t get the gym’s air-conditioning unit to work, Public Information Officer Johnnie Balfantz said.

Workers discovered the system had been tampered with and found parts missing from 11 units, including eight 5-ton units, and three 15-ton units which control the air and humidity in the gym, band hall, and a number of classrooms, Balfantz said.

Deputies found holes cut into the fence on the south side of campus.

Damage estimates range from $5,000 to $10,000. The estimated value of the amount of copper stolen is below $500, Balfantz said.

Repairs to the system are under way, he said.