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String of break-ins targeting Greenwich village garages

Heather Chapin-Fowler • Sep 2, 2013 at 8:46 PM

With copper prices on the rise, thieves are targeting Greenwich residents’ property and stealing a variety of items, according to village police.

There have been five illegal entries into village residents’ garages in the last few weeks, Chief Steve Dorsey said.

While copper isn’t necessarily easy to obtain or collect, that hasn’t deterred the thieves.

“It’s a lot of work,” Dorsey said of the copper-theft trade.

Burglars have been known to gut vacant and newly built homes for not only copper pipes, but also the wiring in the walls.

“They just crack open the receptacle, take the wire and pull it up through the drywall, he said.

In one of the thefts recently, the thieves made off with about 30 extension cords. The owner was storing them in his garage until winter when he annually uses them to display lavish Christmas decorations.

The assortment of extension cords ranged in size from 50 to 100 feet, Dorsey said.

The West Main Street man reported on July 12 that his garage was entered, according to a police report. The resident, who is known in the village for his expansive holiday decorations and displays, had about 30 extension cords taken from a locked shed, Dorsey said.

The burglar stole the key to the shed from the garage to obtain access to the outbuilding, the police report stated.

“It’s really a lot of work, burning it down,” the chief said of collecting and processing the copper for resale scrap.

The thieves generally use a fire pit with a tire, since the rubber burns very hot, under the cover of nightfall so no one can see the black smoke. Then, they throw in the wiring and let the insulation burn off, leaving the copper after the fire dies out.

Once the copper is collected from the ash, it can be balled up and sold.

While most scrap yards now keep records of sellers, not all of them have incorporated the record-keeping into their businesses.

The scrap yards that buy from anonymous customers are usually the ones that end up buying the stolen goods, Dorsey said.

The latest theft into a garage on Seminary Street occurred on Aug. 17, where $850 was reportedly stolen from a locked vehicle, according to a police report.

Ten days prior, also on Seminary Street, another resident reported several tools and four five-gallon buckets of scrap copper were stolen from his garage, a report stated.

On July 20, a Market Street resident reported the theft of a chain saw and cordless drill.

On July 18, a North Railroad Street resident reported a list of what he considered “very unusual items that did not make sense to him,” the officer stated in his report after interviewing the resident. The items included six pair of sunglasses, leather gloves and skull caps, all worn when he rides his motorcycle. A “Rambo-style 12 foreign knife” also was obtained during the theft, the report stated.

In regards to the tools, Dorsey speculated they were targeted primarily for their copper contained inside them. They, too, will likely be stripped and the copper removed since tools generally have traceable serial or identification numbers on them, the chief said.

Officer Aaron Smith said the department had not yet made any arrests.

“We’ll get them eventually,” Smith said.

Smith and Dorsey said the investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information about the thefts is encouraged to call the police department at (419)752-5701.


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