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Copper thieves cut water line at vacant Brown Avenue home

Water floods basement of house owner was just about to put on market

February 01, 2011|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Water covers the basement floor of a vacant house on Brown Avenue Tuesday. A water line had been cut in the basement by copper thieves.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

A Hagerstown man walked into his vacant Brown Avenue home Tuesday afternoon and found a water line had been cut in the basement by copper thieves.

Like other copper thefts that have occurred in the city recently, water had surged into the home because the water was not turned off before the pipes were cut, said the homeowner, frustrated at the malicious nature of the act.

"Water was up to the first step in the basement, so I knew I had a problem. Lord knows what my water bill is going to be," said the man, who didn't want to be identified.

Instead of cutting the water pipe after a shutoff valve, the copper pipe was cut before the valve, making it impossible to turn the water off to the house, the man said.

"That's malicious," he said.

The Hagerstown Police Department and other authorities responded to the house at the corner of Brown and Summit Avenues.

A Hagerstown officer at the scene said a burglary had occurred at the house but he could not provide further details.

Hagerstown Police Sgt. Chad Woodring said Tuesday night that a copper theft had occurred at the house but he did not have further details.

Hagerstown Police Department officials said there has been at least 26 copper thefts in the city. The thefts come as up to $3.50 per pound is being offered for copper at scrap yards.

Hagerstown Police Capt. Mark Holtzman made a plea earlier this week for the public's help in stopping the spree.

Holtzman said his department has some leads in the investigation of Tuesday's theft, but he said the probe would be greatly enhanced if the community helps.

He asked residents to be watchful of suspicious activity around homes and report it to authorities. Many of the copper thefts are occurring in vacant properties, Holtzman said.

The owner of the home at Brown and Summit Avenues said he was just reading a story in The Herald-Mail Monday about some of the recent copper thefts on Guilford and Summit avenues and Wakefield Road.

Because some of those thefts were near his house, the man said he decided to check the house about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. He said copper pipe was stolen out of the basement but he could not tell how much.

The man was leasing the home recently, but the tenant moved out, he said. He was preparing to put the house on the market.

Authorities stood by at the rear of the house as pumps slowly sucked water out of the basement. No damage estimate was available Tuesday.

Holtzman is asking anyone who sees suspicious behavior around homes to call 911.

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