Copper being stolen from vacant Mon Valley homes

May 19, 2014

The Monongahela police chief is asking residents of Monongahela and New Eagle to be on the alert for thieves stealing copper from vacant homes in the community.

“We’ve had several burglaries in the last three weeks of unoccupied structures in those two communities,” Chief Brian Tempest said Monday. “Some of the homes have ‘For Sale’ signs in the front yard, while others are just obviously empty.

“Ninety percent of the homes had signs in the front yard,” the chief added. “Most had no curtains in the front windows, so it is easy for a would-be thief to walk up and take a look inside.”

In most cases, thieves are forcing open either a basement or rear door at the homes. Once inside, copper pipe is cut and stolen.

“One house still had water service, but the thief turned off the water before cutting the pipe,” Tempest said.

The chief said most of the homes targeted had not had anyone inside for at least two weeks.

“We believe the burglaries are happening during the day after talking with neighbors, because no one has reported seeing any flashlights on inside the houses,” Tempest said. “We had one neighbor reporting hearing a noise at one of the houses, but thought it may be a Realtor showing it. But a Realtor would park out front and walk right up to the house.”

Troopers in the state police forensic services unit and city police have lifted some prints inside the houses.

“Hopefully, we’ll get a match,” Tempest said.

The chief said if residents see suspicious people or vehicles in their neighborhoods, they should immediately call 911.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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