After looking at so many properties that have been hit by copper thieves over the years, I have started to have this recurring fantasy about catching them in the act. I have personally had several rentals broken into, but I have never been able to catch anyone red-handed.
Any investors out there that have been fortunate/unfortunate enough to catch someone in the act? What did you do and how did it turn out?
I didn't catch anyone, but I had just renovated a property and had a new tenant for January 1 (this was in 2012). The thieves hit the weekend of Christmas and took some copper. They may have done this before because they shut off the water before starting. It cost me about $800 to get everything fixed up so the tenant could move in on January 1st. That has only happened to me one time.
I had a HUD house under contract to buy a couple years ago. It's about 3 blocks from my house. The day before I was supposed to close on it, the listing agent calls me and tells me it got broken into, and that she was filing a police report. I ended up getting a reduction in price because of the copper plumbing and wiring theft, so I wasn't too upset, just irritated at the additional time it would take for repairs.
Then, literally the day after my electrician finished repairing/replacing the damaged wiring, it got broken into again. This time, one of my friends was driving by the house and saw someone on the outside trying to get in and called me. So I grabbed a baseball bat and ran over to the house, but the thief was gone by the time I got there (and had already managed to steal some more wiring).
After the adrenaline wore off, I realized that it was probably stupid of me to bring a bat along to what could have been a gunfight. But man, it would have been sweet to have one swing at his knees!
I have to deal with the aftermath of this on the house I am closing on next week. Luckily they were nice about it and cut the main 3/0 feeder lines from the pole to the circuit breaker box inside on each end and pulled the wire out without doing any damage.
A couple years ago I had a worker on the place steal a partial spool of 3/0 wire with about 120 feet on it and a full 325 foot roll of #4 ground wire from my storage building on the farm. I know it was him because two days before he had seen it while we were getting some tools and asked what I was planning to use it for. Cops couldn't do anything because he had already sold it before they caught up with him.
I want to get mad but it does not help the situation. Someone broke into one of my shops and took a couple thousand worth of flooring that I had bought in bulk. They also took my 75 foot power snake and a box of copper fittings. I no longer keep the snakes or flooring in that shop.
All I can figure to do is to safeguard a bit better and keep moving on.
They were pretty bold to drill the locks out in the middle of an apartment complex.
Perhaps having a state out outside the property? On estimated times where its most likely to happen? HD video surveillance? Or another option could be they have this motion detectors at Harbor Frights and basically it makes a loud noise to scare of those who mean no good. That might not catch them but it sure might just keep them away from your property.
On my electrical contractors forum we have some video of a couple thieves plus footage of the arrest. It's hilarious. We also have a disastrous not so funny one that resulted in the death of the thief. He got into a transformer and was burned to death.
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