Copper's Hot: Theft of the Metal is on the Rise
Copper has become "popular" to steal, and homes in Northborough have been hit because of it.
In June, Northborough police arrested a Westborough man for breaking into a building on West Main Street. The suspect had tools on him that would have aided in stealing copper from the building.
The particular crime, say police, is on the rise.
Within the past year, in town, copper thefts have occurred from homes on Church Street, Crawford Street, Summer Street, South Street, Belmont Street, Main Street and West Main Street.
And last week alone, Northborough police had reports of three copper thefts, including a breaking and entering in progress on South Street. Since the particular house was empty and on the market, police suspected the thief was targeting the home for its copper.
In Northborough and surrounding towns, police have seen an increase in copper theft over the past year or two, according to Sgt. Det. Brian Griffin of the Northborough Police Department.
"In most cases, the theft results from a breaking and entering into a home that is currently vacant," said Griffin. "Sometimes these houses are on the market and the person has moved already. Other times the homes may be in foreclosure, or in some cases the houses are being renovated."
Griffin added that his department sees copper thefts from construction sites and power sources. "National Grid deals with copper theft all the time," he said.
The crime, Griffin said, is treated like any other breaking and entering incident. A detective is called to the scene to process it, and local scrapyards where the copper might be sold are checked.
"It is obviously difficult to distinguish one piece of copper from another," he said. "Scrap yards take in copper all day long so it gets difficult to pinpoint whose copper is whose."
The damage, though, in most cases is extensive, said Griffin. Not only does the suspect typically force himself into the home, but a saw is usually used to remove the piping.
"Some of the homes the water is still running so literally the water flows into the basement," said Griffin. "I’ve been to some house where I have observed thousands of dollars in damage not only from the stolen pipes but from the water damage as well."
Griffin asked for residents to keep a watchful eye on their property, but also their neighbor's property, and to call police with any suspicious activity.