A hot commodity

copper pipesCrime fact of the day: There have been 41 copper burglaries reported to the Albany Police Department in the last 16 months. The APD says 3/4 of the burglaries have been in vacant buildings.

The latest incident involved a vacant, bank-owned house in the Whitehall neighborhood. The APD says a man was arrested for allegedly posing as a contractor in order to strip the house of its copper piping. (Full press release after the jump.)

Copper thefts have been an ongoing problem as prices for the metal have spiked during the last decade. The problem has been so pervasive across the nation -- with thieves ripping off all sorts of piping and wire -- that the FBI reported a few years back that copper theft was a threat to the nation's critical infrastructure. The problem has prompted many states to recently pass laws that require stricter rules for how scrap copper can be sold or bought. [NYT] [FBI] [NCSL]

If you keep an eye out here in the Capital Region, you'll notice there's a copper theft story every week or so. Many of the stories have stuck out for either the audacity (and stupidity) of the people involved, or the consequences of the theft.

A few quick examples:

+ Troy police recently busted a crew for allegedly stealing copper pipe from a building on Congress Street while the water was still turned on, resulting in the free flow of water from the connections were the pipes was removed. [Troy Record]

+ Last October, a man was arrested for allegedly stealing copper from a business at the Port of Albany -- and leaving his 11-month-old daughter in the car while he did it.

+ Two men were arrested last April for allegedly stealing rooftop HVAC units from businesses around Wolf Road -- a string that may have included the theft of a unit from atop the Target at the Northway Mall. [Troy Record]

+ The huge Central Warehouse fire in 2010 was started by sparks from a crew cutting pipes in the building in order to steal them.

photo: Flickr user Editor B
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APD: copper theft on Edgecomb Street
Albany detectives, with assistance from Albany firefighters and a alert citizen, arrested a Schenectady man for trying to strip copper pipes from a vacant house on Edgecomb Street.
Gordon Lambert, 42 , of 205 Division Street was arrested by detectives yesterday evening and charged with Burglary 3rd and Petit Larceny. He was arraigned in Albany City Court this morning.
Lambert was arrested after detectives connected him to a truck seen leaving the scene of a daytime burglary at 71 Edgecomb Street on February 24.
Lambert allegedly went to the location disguised as a contractor working for Bank of America who owns the house. He pulled his pickup truck into the rear yard and up against the building. Lambert, who was wearing a hardhat, was asked by a passerby what he was doing to the house. He said he was there to repair a gas leak.
Lambert then went to the rear of the house and forced his way in through a window and went into the basement and started to cut the copper piping.
The passerby, concerned that there might be a gas leak, reported it to the fire department who sent a engine company to check it out.
Engine 9 was dispatched to the house and when they arrived firefighters observed Lambert jump out the rear window and into his truck. Unable to drive out the front Lambert ran his truck through the rear fencing and out onto another street and fled the scene. Before he was able to get away firefighters were able to get the license plate number and turned it over to patrol officers.
Lambert is a suspect in other related copper burglaries in the region.
Since December 1, 2011 there have been 41 reported copper burglaries to the department. Vacant houses continue to be the main target of the burglars. Approximately 75% of the burglaries are vacant houses.

Comments

The Central Warehouse fire was in 2010?? Where does the time go?

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