DAVIS (CBS13) — A World War II-era copper still weighing hundreds of pounds is not your typical target item for thieves.

“It’s somebody that knew what they were looking after,” said UC Davis Winemaker Leticia Chacon Rodriguez. “That’s the part that breaks my heart.”

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This copper device, which was once used to make brandy and is a current teaching tool, was stolen from UC Davis’s Jackson Sustainable Winery Building.

Chacon Rodriguez explained that last week, thieves broke into the facility and took a few things. They got in by breaking into the door. Thieves broke in again this past weekend. This time, they broke a window frame from 14 feet above to get into the building.

“I would rather have them, okay you need money, ‘Here is the money’, rather than taking something with so much heritage. It’s irreplaceable,” explained Chacon Rodriquez

The 24-foot-tall still was built in 1939 specifically for the university and became a staple in their research program, leading the way for brandy making in California

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“It’s something from World War II. How many people are going to be able to see a relic from World War II in the next coming years, especially with generations of students coming through this program?” explained Matharin Lee, lab manager.

So why steal this huge piece of equipment? Money Metals Exchange — a national metal investment company — says copper is worth $4.71 per pound. UC Davis police are investigating.

“Unfortunately, we have seen a number of catalytic thefts. That’s been a statewide problem recently with precious metals in the converters being stolen, being sold, same thing with this,” said UC Davis spokesperson Andy Fell. “It’s a high-quality copper, so, presumably, people are looking to sell this for the value of the metal in it.”

University officials hope the still will be returned to learn from for generations to come.

“You can always make another painting, let’s say, but it’s not going to be the painting of the renaissance. You can mimic, but it is never going to be the same,” Chacon Rodriquez said.

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UC Davis is now looking into putting in more security to prevent being targeted again.