By Joyce Tremel
We don't always have what you would call a crime of the week, but we do have runs on certain crimes. Sometimes it'll be retail thefts, other times vehicle break ins. For some reason, most things seem to come in groups. Except domestics. They're an almost daily occurrence and usually more plentiful near the full moon. But that's another story.
The latest crime wave, not only in Shaler, but across the country, is the theft of copper pipe. Since the beginning of the year, there have been almost a dozen of these thefts in Shaler. Half of them were thefts of copper wire or scrap copper from businesses.
Lately we've had a rash of burglaries where the actors (in Allegheny County we call them actors, not perps), break into a vacant house and steal the copper pipe. In a couple of houses, the new homeowners were lucky--the water had been shut off. In one house the actors not only took the water pipes, they pulled the gas pipes out, too. When the homeowner came to check on his house, he not found not only extensive flooding, but a dangerous gas leak. In the last two burglaries, the thieves also took the water meters.
Other communities report that thieves are making off with aluminum siding and gutters, too. The price of aluminum is high, but not as high as copper. Local scrap metal dealers are paying between $2.00 and $3.00 a pound for copper, and expect the price to keep climbing. With the average house having over 400 pounds of copper pipe, that's a lot of money for the average heroin or meth addict.
Police in many cities are advising home sellers not to leave their houses vacant. If they must, take extra precautions. Have the water and gas shut off, if possible. If there is an alarm system installed, keep it activated. Keep the electric turned on and put lights on timers inside the house, and use exterior lighting as well. Although costly, it's not nearly as expensive as repairing the damage due to gushing water throughout the house.
So, if you see people leaving a vacant house carrying copper pipe, they ain't plumbers. I suggest you call the Coppers.