Thieves target downspouts in copper heists

Copper downspouts are the latest target of metal thieves.
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Thieves have been targeting copper wiring, condensers and even basement grates which they sell to scrap metal dealers.

Lately, they've also been turning to something even closer to home - gutter downspouts, particularly copper ones.

Paco Argiz's Meridian Hills home was recently hit while he and his partner were home.

"We heard a noise outside, came out to see what it was and didn't see anything. Then a little while later, we heard another noise and still didn't see anything," Argiz said. "We thought it was some branch that fell down."

The next morning, he saw it wasn't a branch they heard, but a copper downspout being ripped from the side of their house.

It wasn't the only thing thieves took. They also went around to the back of the garage, yanking on another downspout.

Pointing to the twisted metal hanging from the gutter, he said, "You see it takes a lot of strength to pull it out and they were trying to do that, but the bottom is what they took."

He suspects they left the rest behind because it wasn't copper.

"How brazen to do it when the lights are on and you're not in total darkness," Argiz said.

Meridian Hills Town Marshall Mike Russo said he's had "numerous" reports of stolen downspouts the last few months. He said it's usually occurring between 10 pm and 3 am.

But some thieves are operating in broad daylight, pulling up in a van or truck and pretending to be workers.

"It's very bold," Russo said.

Another north side victim, who preferred not to be identified, calls the thefts, "very maddening, very frustrating," as well.

The man had two copper downspouts taken from the back of his garage, only to have the thieves return two weeks later to take one out front.

"It's kind of ridiculous. The last thing you think of is that your gutters are risk, but they're copper and they have some value, but I don't think near as much as it costs to replace them," the man said.

Copper has been getting about $2.70 a pound - nothing compared to the $150 or more it costs to buy a new one.

Russo said while they have stepped up patrols in his area, the best thing homeowners can do is "increase lighting" around the house and "look out for one suspicious behavior."