Police tracking copper theft leads - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Police tracking copper theft leads

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They have a view most would envy, but the allure of seasonal lakeside living is fading for some camp owners along Fairfield Pond.

"Used to be a three-quarter inch line all the way down and over to the pump," said Harold Greenia.
In the last week, police say thieves have targeted at least eight camps on Napoli Road in Fairfield and four more on Sandy Point Road in Swanton.

"The number one thing these criminals are looking for is copper piping," said Vt. State Police Tpr. John Bruzzi.

Plumber Harold Greenia took us into the basement of one vandalized home -- pointing out the busted brackets that used to hold the camp's copper piping. The frustrated homeowner declined an on camera interview but said she called Greenia to survey the damage.

"She was kind of surprised. She called me up and she said, 'They hit us again Harold,'" Greenia said.

Police say it's not uncommon for thieves to target camps this time of year. Many owners have buttoned up for the season, leaving the remote homes unattended. Police say the thieves break-in after dark and are out within a matter of minutes, carrying copper they plan to convert to cash. "When they're getting the copper they're able to offload it fast. It's very difficult to track and by getting that they can turn it into money extremely fast," Tpr. Bruzzi said.

State law does require salvage yards to ID anyone selling them copper, but police say the challenge is connecting that copper to the copper stolen from these camps.  

"So they're actually doing a good job ID-ing people and telling how much they brought in, but the fact that it gets offloaded so quick makes it very difficult to say, yeah that copper pipe is from this camp," Tpr. Bruzzi said.

Police say this rash of burglaries may be different. The brazen thieves not only clipped the pipes visible from the outside, but they also broke into a few of the homes and left evidence behind.

"Once this stuff gets down to our lab and I figure out some other angles here, we're hopefully going to come up with a suspect pretty quick," Tpr. Bruzzi said.

In the meantime, police recommend that camp owners install motion sensor lighting, hire caretakers, and ditch their copper piping for a plastic substitute called Pex piping. It's a third of the cost and worthless to thieves. "The number one thing they look under a camp and see copper, they're going to take it. They notice you've got Pex piping, they're moving onto the next one," Tpr. Bruzzi said.

An expense to camp owners that just may lead to priceless peace of mind.

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