Police in Oak Bay are searching for would-be copper thieves who couldn't quite get the job done at a local recreation centre.

The attempted theft took place at Monterey Recreation Centre at around 6 a.m. Friday, Aug. 24, Oak Bay police said in a news release.

Day staff at the centre called police when they saw a large three-inch diameter copper pipe had fallen on the ground of the parking lot.

Investigators found that the metal supports for the pipe were carefully unscrewed.

They say it appears that a commercial-style ratchet strap was tied to part of the pipe, with the other end tried around a vehicle to that tried to pull the pipe free.

Police seized hardware from the ratchet strap and a discarded box cutter for further investigation.

The entire section of copper pipe remained intact despite the thieves' best efforts. An investigation is ongoing.