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Copper wire thefts prompt neighborhood watch formation

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Published on: Tuesday, February 26, 2013

By Nkongho Beteck

An unusual theft on the 4000 block of Farragut Street in Hyattsville has led residents to take precautions into their own hands to protect their community.

During a Jan. 17 home inspection, Hyattsville resident Maria Boroja discovered the theft of copper wire connecting from her home to her outside air conditioner. Boroja was told by her contractor that the 2-5 feet of wire stolen was worth approximately $5, however Boroja says it will cost her about $200 to have it repaired.

Days later, the copper wire extending to the air conditioning unit was also stolen from the home of Joy Truby, also of Farragut Street. Truby has since repaired and attached a lock on her outdoor air conditioner to prevent further theft.

Both residents have not received any information from police that the thief was caught.

A month prior to this discovery, almost $100,000 worth of recyclable materials was stolen from the demolition site of the Laurel Mall after a small amount of copper wire was stolen from the same site a day or two before. Police believed at least three dumpsters full of scrap metal and three large air conditioning units were stolen that day as well.

Boroja believes there must be a high demand of the wire because of all the recent thefts.

“If there wasn’t a market for it, people wouldn’t be stealing it. … I wonder why someone who’s receiving the wire isn’t saying anything. … It’s a supply and demand issue,” she said.

A representative from the scrap metal company, PG Scrap in College Park, said numerous people turn in copper wire every day and they have not seen recent demand for it.

Copper wire is used for building construction and power generation among other uses, making it valuable. Truby believes whoever is stealing the wire is doing it now because typically air conditioners are not in use during the winter, and the thief can get away with stealing from more houses to make money.

The residents of Farragut Street established a neighborhood watch after several thefts and break-ins occurred in the area. They hope keeping an eye out in their community will deter future incidents.

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