Archive for Sunday, June 8, 2008

Copper thieves wreak havoc

A Lawrence couple moving in to their first house got an unwelcome surprise of thousands of dollars in damage caused by someone looking for scrap copper.

June 8, 2008


A thief walked out of a North Lawrence home with less than $10 worth of copper water pipes and left behind thousands of dollars in damage.

Gene and Evie Normandin discovered they were victims of a burglary before they even moved into the home they recently purchased. As Gene Normandin, 47, a plumber, entered his still-vacant home last month, he noticed a broken window.

"When I walked in, I was being sprayed in the face so I knew something was really wrong," he said.

Apparently - after getting in through the window - someone cut two water pipes, each less than a foot long, Normandin said.

"It was really very frustrating," he said. "I didn't think that it was someone probably that had experience in stealing copper because they didn't see if the water was off."

An estimated 4,000 gallons of water flooded the house in about 36 hours.

"Basically three or four rooms just had water flowing across them," he said.

In the basement, the water flooded the furnace and hot water heater.

Normandin's wife, Evie, 31, sees copper theft as just "a sign of the times."

And she's right.

As the price of copper has increased throughout the years, so has the number of copper thefts.

In Douglas County, more than $8,000 worth of copper has been reported stolen so far this year, according to Lt. Steve Rector of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. That surpasses the thefts reported during all of last year.

Kim Murphree, Lawrence Police spokeswoman, said copper most commonly was reported stolen from construction sites.

Rector said he suspected if the price of copper remained high deputies might see more thefts this year.

That's more than likely, according to a national expert on scrap metal.

Nationally, copper sells for $3.74 a pound. In March 2007, copper was selling for $2.91 a pound.

"That's a rather dramatic jump," said Bruce Savage, vice president of communications for the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, a national trade association for the scrap recycling industry based in Washington, D.C.

"It's due to the old Economics 101 - supply and demand," Savage said. "Demand is far outstripping supply right now," in both the domestic and international markets.

Copper fits right in with the rising demand for commodities such as oil, wheat and rice, he said.

"International markets such as Brazil, Russia, India and China are leading the way in demanding these materials and they are willing to pay for them," Savage said. "And that's driving the prices up."

At Lonnie's Recycling Inc., 501 Maple St., "people bring in copper everyday," employee Lisa Schmitt said. She said people brought in "anywhere from two pounds to 400, depending on who it was." Lonnie's pays $2.20 a pound for copper.

At 12th and Haskell Bargain Center, owner Bo Killough pays $1.45 to $1.90 a pound, depending on how clean it is. Killough said he had caught quite a few people trying to sell him stolen copper. But it's hard to know if the copper was stolen.

If, for example, someone brings in a load of 100 pounds or more, or something else strikes the center's employees as odd, they make a copy of the person's ID and call the police.

"It's sad right now the way people are breaking into houses stealing everything," Killough said.


zettapixel 9 years, 11 months ago

How about taking finger prints for good measure?

budwhysir 9 years, 11 months ago

Um I think that taking a copy of the dl would give them the name and address. unless this was stolen too.

bearded_gnome 9 years, 11 months ago

this story was on 6news several days ago! the couple in this story have a huge mess to clean up! good luck. hope you prevent mold. ***once again, boozo, your vapidity is astounding. sometimes there are very good reasons to still use copper. maybe have an alarm system?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 11 months ago

I guess the lesson is to use pex tubing instead of copper.

Steve Jacob 9 years, 11 months ago

I remember a note at the place on 11th saying licence was required now, except for cans.

littleone 9 years, 11 months ago

Do the recycling places take the names and other info. from people that bring in copper to be recycled? This is so sad what these thieves can do. Totally disrespectful..

denak 9 years, 11 months ago

Ok maybe someone who knows can answer this but I thought I read a few months ago that this was becoming an issue because people need cooper to make meth? Anyone know?

tir 9 years, 11 months ago

Whatever happened to the law that the KS Legislature was considering in 2007 that would require scrap metal dealers to get IDs from the people they bought from? local representatives should consider reintroducing the bill. And considering the huge amount of damage thieves can do even when they steal a little bit of copper, scrap metal dealers should ask for ID before buying even small amounts of it.

Bossa_Nova 9 years, 11 months ago

the copper thieves are parasites. look what they did to this family's house for a few bucks. what's sad is this guy now has to pay out of pocket to fix his house and the parasites will probably never be found. if they find these society rejects i hope the judge throws the book at them.

camper 9 years, 11 months ago

Businesses should be on alert too. A couple of numbskulls that work for the same company I do got caught selling copper wire to a scrap yard and pocketing the cash. I imagine it was sitting on a shelf somewhere in storage.

wifemotherslave 9 years, 11 months ago

Yes it is I who is one of the home owners. Yeah, what really sucks now is that the insurance company is trying to screw us out of everything. Things like the furnace and hot water heater which were totally water logged, and they are denying the fact that the bottom of the cabinets are destroyed too. INSURANCE STINKS

bearded_gnome 9 years, 11 months ago

wow,that really does suck that now you have to fight the d----d insurance should give their name on here. welcome to north lawrence, hope things get better from here!

Tony Kisner 9 years, 11 months ago

Sandy Preger SP? is the KS insurance commissioner also lives here in Lawrence.

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