Copper thefts have been a problem across the state for months, but it’s only getting worse. Criminals have been breaking into homes and ripping off copper for some quick cash.
In the last few weeks, thieves have struck more than a dozen times, hitting East Hartford, Monroe and Manchester.( Thu Feb 16 05:30:27 PST 2012 $__output )
“I think it’s terrible,” said Barbara Tennyson, whose family’s empty Manchester home was recently targeted.
“That was my aunt’s house and she passed away,” Tennyson said.
Manchester Police said they’ve had at least 10 similar cases in recent weeks. In most of those cases, crooks tore apart the copper plumbing.
Police also admitted it has been tough figuring out who's doing this, because the suspects have been driving up to the vacant homes, getting into the garages and parking inside. That way, no one could tell what kind of car they were in or if they were even here in the first place.
“I saw nothing,” Kim Waltemire said.
She and her neighbors had no idea something like this happened right across the street until police told them. Manchester Police said that’s part of the problem.
“We're asking anybody that lives next to a vacant house to be extra cautious and extra vigilant about anything they may see out of the ordinary,” Captain Chris Davis said.
Copper is worth nearly $3 a pound and police think the crooks have been taking it to recycling centers and sometimes exchanging it for hundreds of dollars.
Investigators can’t find who's buying it or who brought it in. It’s an issue that's not isolated to Manchester.
Police in East Hartford and Monroe have also been dealing with a growing number of instances.
“This is a big problem,” said Captain Davis.
These crimes have cost thousands of dollars in damage too.
Last week in Monroe, heating oil leaked from a tank and spilled into a pond after someone tore the copper piping out of a foreclosed home. The cleanup wasn’t easy.
Investigators said the situation has only become more dangerous and they need to put an end to it and find whoever is responsible.