Haven for copper thieves found in central Albany - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Haven for copper thieves found in central Albany

September 17, 2007

Albany --  Copper thefts have plagued downtown Albany businesses and property owners for months, and now firefighters found a spot where some have been burning the insulation off wiring. 

Firefighters found a fire blazing behind the vacant home at 607 West First Avenue.  More than 300 pounds of wire was found smoldering in the fire, to remove the insulation around the metal.  No one was with the fire-- that's because the smoke that comes off the plastic insulation is toxic.

Albany Fire Department Investigator Sam Harris said "They'll set them on fire and then they'll leave them to smolder.  And there are children all around this area. We're concerned one about the children getting burned, and two, breathing in the fumes."

In the house and in the shed in the back yard of this vacant home are old mattresses and bed rolls, where vagrants have been sleeping.  There are also old TV and radio electronics scattered around the yard, stripped for their wiring.

There are several trash cans in this lot. Investigators think they were using the trash cans as a transportation device to bring the stolen wire to the lot to burn and then to sell it.

Firefighters called the Police to investigate the stolen property, and Code Enforcement to look at the vacant houses, to see if they don't need to be demolished. "It's a haven for thefts, and we want to get the people off the streets that are stealing other people's goods and setting fires," Harris said.

No one has been arrested with this wire burning, but police now will watch this vacant house.  Investigators say that just means the thieves will probably move on to another vacant property to burn the copper wire they steal.
Police ask you to report vagrants sleeping or burning around vacant homes or property, or if you
see someone pushing a trash can down the street.

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