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Alexandria Police Investigating 14 Copper Thefts

String of thefts began in early April.

The thefts occur at all hours of the day and night and thieves are targeting not just single-family homes, but churches and schools as well. Patch archive photo
The thefts occur at all hours of the day and night and thieves are targeting not just single-family homes, but churches and schools as well. Patch archive photo
The Alexandria Police Department has recently seen an increase in reports of copper downspouts and gutters stolen from residential and commercial buildings, according to a news release.

Police say there have been at least 14 incidents since the beginning of April. The thefts occur at all hours of the day and night and thieves are targeting not just single-family homes, but churches and schools as well.

Copper theft is a problem nationwide. The Columbus Dispatch in Ohio reported Thursday that thieves have stripped sheets of metal from rooftops, stolen decorations from cemeteries, ripped apart air conditioners for the copper coils and stripped homes of wiring and piping, then sold the pieces for scrap.

Thieves have even been electrocuted trying to steal live electrical wiring, according to the newspaper article.

Copper theft has become a common occurrence throughout the Northern Virginia area. The Alexandria Police Department is encouraging residents to take these steps to prevent the theft of copper items: 

• Call the police when observing suspicious behavior around gutters or roofs; do not assume the person belongs there.
• Remove access to buildings and roofs, such as trees, ladders, and scaffolding. 
• Engrave any copper tubing with the address of the property. Avoid using the property owner’s information since this may change often, whereas the property address will remain the same.
• Install a security camera with a video recorder and keep recordings for a sufficient period. 
• Post signs indicating the presence of a surveillance or security system.
• Trim or remove shrubbery or other landscaping that allows thieves to hide from view.
• Increase exterior lighting and protect fixtures (such as AC units) with locked metal cages.

Detectives are reminding local recyclers or scrap yards to reject copper scrap that appears to have been stolen.

To report a theft or to give information regarding copper thefts in Alexandria, contact the Police Department at (703) 746-4444.

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