House-hunters in Morris Township have been looking for a steal–specifically, copper plumbing they can steal from vacant homes just before dawn, police said on Thursday.
Authorities have investigated 10 reported thefts of township homes since July 18, 2013.
“It is believed that the suspect(s) are specifically targeting homes which appear to be vacant, as most have had ‘for sale’ signs on the lawn. Some have been vacant
overnight, others weeks,” township Police Capt. Richard Ferrone said in a statement.
Police believe the burglaries are happening in pre-dawn hours, when darkness and the hum of air conditioners outside provides cover.
“Once inside, work to remove the pipe quickly focuses to the lower floors,” said Capt. Ferrone, citing U.S. Department of Energy estimates that thefts of copper, tubing and wiring and resulting damage now amount to $1 billion a year.
“Construction sites, abandoned buildings, and commercial heating and air conditioning units have been the biggest targets for these thieves. More often than not the damage caused obtaining the copper vastly exceeds the value of the copper, but this does not deter the thieves,” the Captain said.
He asked residents to remain vigilant, and expressed hope that as bedroom windows are opened during cooler weather, someone will hear a burglary and call township detectives at 973-326-7480.
“If there is a vacant home near them or if they are aware of a neighbor who is away, residents should make note of any suspicious activity day or night and call the police immediately,” Capt. Ferrone said.