Thieves target copper in empty houses
By BRIAN STANLEY email@example.com September 10, 2012 8:06PM
Carrie Nelson plans to put signs up in her Joliet neighborhood to warn other residents of the recent theft of copper piping from the nearby rental property she owns and other unoccupied homes in the area. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 12, 2012 6:03AM
JOLIET — A property owner hopes copper thieves will think twice if neighbors are aware of the problem.
Carrie Nelson is rehabbing her rental property in the 600 block of Gardner Street. On July 30, she arrived to find all of the copper pipes and most of the appliances had been stolen.
“I don’t even think they had tools. It was jagged (and looked like) they just twisted and ripped it off,” she said. “I think they just walked out the front door and took everything that was easy to carry.”
A larger air conditioning unit that would’ve required some effort to move was still there, but the smaller one was taken. The thief, or thieves, also smashed the water meter while removing the pipes.
“It’s probably a couple hundred dollars worth, but it’ll cost a thousand to replace,” Nelson, who is insured, said.
In the last month, Nelson also has learned of copper thefts at vacant houses on another block of Gardner and nearby Linden Avenue.
Copper thefts at vacant houses, especially foreclosures, have skyrocketed in the area in recent years. Thieves easily can be mistaken for hired contractors and many thefts occur during daylight hours at homes without power.
“These types of thefts have become a constant issue over the last few years,” Police Chief Mike Trafton said. “Once someone gets the copper there are no serial numbers or requirements for a scrap dealer to determine where they got it from.”
Nelson has spent the last few days making posters to put up in the neighborhood about the thefts.
“I just want people to pay attention. I haven’t replaced the water piping yet because I’m afraid they’re going to take it again,” she said.