Bristol Police Investigate Copper Pipe Thefts

By Ilana Gold
|  Tuesday, Feb 5, 2013  |  Updated 7:31 AM EDT
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Police say that crooks have been breaking into empty homes to steal copper piping. The thefts are leaving an environmental mess behind and the clean-up hasn't been an easy one.

Police say that crooks have been breaking into empty homes to steal copper piping. The thefts are leaving an environmental mess behind and the clean-up hasn't been an easy one.

In the past few months, the Bristol Police have been battling a dangerous trend.

Crooks have been breaking into empty homes, stealing copper piping and leaving behind an environmental mess that has not been easy to clean up.

“It's a little bit frightening for us,” Julie Walden, a neighbor, said. “You worry there’s going to be a fire or some type of explosion.”

Most of the copper pipes that are being stolen connect the furnace to the fuel tank. After they are removed, heating oil spills out and potentially leaks into the ground and contaminates water supplies.

The State Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has been called in multiple times for clean-ups to make sure neighborhoods aren’t in danger.

“Definitely oil getting out causes environmental risks and possible contamination,” Dennis Schain, of the Department of Environmental Protection said.

The cost of these thefts is has been adding up.

It cost the D.E.E.P thousands of dollars to clean up the mess every time and, while the property owners are billed, they don’t always pay up.

“It doesn't happen every time, but our goal is to make sure state expense is covered,” Schain said.

Police believe these criminals are out looking for a quick way to make some cash.

“It's very concerning. Someone's got to put a stop to it,” Larry Booska said.

Police said hat no arrests had been made.

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