Copper thieves targeting homes for sale in the West End

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Selling your home? Already moved? You may want to ask your neighbors to keep a closer watch. Crooks are targeting houses on the market- breaking in for copper they can sell for money.

For sale signs are supposed to attract visitors to your house but thieves are also taking this as an invite; looking for an empty house to rip off for precious metals.

All summer long air conditioning units were disappearing. By November? Thieves were stripping the gutters.

Copper's now going for more than $3 a pound and during the holiday's thieves are growing bolder - going after homes on the market.

"They're seeing the for sale signs. They're watching, seeing that nobody's coming and going," Richmond Detective Mary Paulette said.

Detective Paulette says they're breaking inside through basement windows- gutting the homes of copper pipes and wiring. Several houses on the market along Monument, Kensington, Patterson and Stuart have all made the police reports.

"Couple of them had contracts so they had to go back in and fix the house before they could finish the contract out," added Detective Paulette.

It's expensive and a headache for the homeowner and for police. These thieves are hard to catch.

"If the sign is in the yard, make sure you've got somebody checking on it every couple of days or every day," said Detective Paulette.

Police say if you see anything suspicious going on at your neighbor's vacant house or property for sale or property for sale don't hesitate to give them a call. They say be sure to write down a vehicle description and a license plate number if possible.

Police also suggest to have sensor lights around these areas to keep thieves from hanging around.

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