Metal theft on the rise -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Metal thefts on the rise

By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –   Albany Police say metal thefts are increasing again now that metal prices have skyrocketed. Copper thieves are targeting vacant houses, rental properties, and air conditioning units. Police say they need your help to stop these thefts.

Thieves only get a few dollars for that metal, but the damage they create will cost thousands of dollars to repair, hurting the entire community.

The owner of apartments on Shelby Lane says metal thieves broke in and stripped several vacant units. The estimate of the damage is more than ten thousand dollars. Vacant houses are favorite targets for thieves.

Albany Police Sgt. Edward Heath said, "The water pipes, wires out of the walls. They rip them out, because some of the wires have copper in them. They take anything they can think of that they think they can get some money off it, they taking it."

It could cost more to repair old houses after metal thieves pick it clean than they are worth. So the owners have to consider tearing them down, and too often they are just abandoned.

City Commissioner Jon Howard says he is hearing complaints from many victims.  "Individuals probably doing it, probably unemployed, don't care. Just doing things to make a quick buck and not realizing what it's going to do to the property owner or home owner."

Police say local metal scrap yards are cooperating, and think thieves are taking the stolen metal out of town to sell. 

"I think sometime these individuals are clever enough to go out and steal, they take it to another jurisdiction or another county and sell that for little or nothing," Howard said.

Police are asking people to keep a close eye on their neighborhood, especially the vacant houses or buildings. 

"Be our eyes and ears, to contact us when they see a strange person, or an individual walking around a vacant house or apartment. They need to give us a call," Heath said.

 Howard says he has increased security at his home, because of this increase in metal thefts. The Police Theft Unit says they are investigating almost 600 cases of metal theft right now.

Now you may think metal thieves will never bother you, so it's not your problem, but stripped vacant homes in your community pull down your home value.

And these air conditioning units at the city recreation building, well your tax money will have to pay the thousands of dollars to replace them. So this crime is everyone's problem.

Police want your help. Get a good description of strangers that you suspect, and get a car tag number if possible, and call 911 to report metal thieves if you suspect a problem.

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