Hubbard cops seek copper-pipe thieves

By John W. Goodwin Jr.

Police are asking homeowners and neighbors to keep an eye out.

HUBBARD — City police are looking for the copper-seeking individuals responsible for a series of home break-ins, and they want residents to help keep an eye out.

Three homes on Hager, Jackson and Wendemere streets were broken into late last week and all found to have copper piping missing from the basement. There was also an attempted burglary on Parkview Drive where police suspect the thieves were after the piping.

A home on Stewart Street, where thieves stole expensive tools, was also broken into during the same time frame, and a resident on East Liberty reported having $1,500 in jewelry taken from her home.

Sgt. James Taafe said valuables other than piping may have been taken in some of the break-ins, but police have been noticing a pattern here — and the pattern is centered around copper.

“This is definitely for the copper. That is all that they want. These people come in and strip the houses clean,” he said.

Taafe said homeowners are often left with more than just the headache of replacing the missing piping. He said water from the missing pipes is often left running, until discovered and shut off by the homeowner.

Police believe the thieves are selling the copper piping for scrap metal — something that police Chief Marty Kanetsky said is exacerbating the problem.

“If they would find the persons out there buying this stuff, we would not have this problem,” he said. “If someone was not buying it, they would not be stealing it.”

Kanetsky said those people dealing in scrap metal need to step back and ask a few questions before accepting load after load from an individual who appears to have come across the items through questionable means.

Accepting all that scrap metal may just be too tempting for some people to pass up. According to, a Web site tracking the price of metals, copper in mid-April was at one of its highest prices in the last year at little more than $4 a pound. The low point, according to the site, was in December 2007 when the price was about $2.80 a pound.

Taafe is asking residents to help take away the temptation by reporting suspicious activity to police. He said owners also need to check on empty homes more frequently.

The break-in at the Hager Street home was discovered when a neighbor noticed a basement light on for several days. The owner of the home on Jackson Street discovered damage to that home when he stopped in to let in some fresh air.

“People who live near a house that appears to be vacant or empty need to pay a little more attention to that house and we would certainly like to be notified of any suspicious activity,” said Taafe. “The homeowners should ask their neighbors to keep an eye out and they should stop in to check on the property often.”