EARLIER: Police concerned about metal thefts

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Copper is the main target, and homes often are damaged

By Lisa King

  Thefts of metal, primarily copper, have become a focus for officers in Shelby County.

“Over the past couple of weeks, the county has been experiencing an increase in the number of metal thefts, more specifically, copper, because it’s bringing a premium price right now,” said Shelby County Sheriff’s Detective Jason Rice.

“So we want residents in the county to be aware that this is going on, and maybe safeguard against what’s going on.”

Rice said the thefts are mostly taking place in abandoned or vacant houses, because thieves are tearing the pipes out to get the metal.

“Copper piping is typically used for water pipes in homes, and people are actually going into these vacant homes and destroying the dry wall to cut the copper tubing out of the walls,” Rice said. “Some of the houses were under construction, and some are older, vacant houses.”

These thefts are causing a lot of property damage, Rice said, because in houses that are not vacant if the water is not turned off, the house is flooded when thieves tear out the pipes.

There have also been some thefts from barns of metal objects, such as scrap aluminum, that were lying around have been stolen, Rice said.

Shelbyville Police Officer Istvan Kovacs said that although such activity is not common in the city, there have been at least two incidents of the types of thefts that are occurring in the county.

Rice urges citizens to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity, such as people they don’t recognize loading up items in vehicles, and if they do see this happening, to give police a call.

“Try to give us a good description of them, including if they’re using a trailer or pickup truck,” he said. “Also, anyone with property should pay attention to any vacant properties that they own and try to check on them more frequently.”

Anyone with information about these crimes is encouraged to contact Rice (633-4324) or Crime Stoppers (633-4500, text to 274637 or www.shelbyclue.com).