Local News

Thorough thieves strip Fayetteville apartments of copper pipe

Posted December 7, 2011

— Fayetteville police are puzzling over the thorough thieves who went to great lengths to strip an unfinished apartment complex of more than a half-mile of copper pipe.

Police said the metal was stolen from West Park Apartments on Raeford Road, a three-floor, 48-unit apartment complex under construction. The thieves went floor by floor, apartment by apartment over the weekend to pull out copper pipes snaking their way to air conditioners and water heaters, police spokesman Gavin MacRoberts said Wednesday.

The lost pipe and building damage is estimated to cost developer Caviness and Cates about $25,000, said Chief Executive Bill Nye.

Copper thefts have been a growing problem for Fayetteville because copper prices have gone up, MacRoberts said, to about $3.50 a pound. Typically, the thieves sell the copper at salvage shops, but Nye said those facilities should be cracking down on people who bring in copper that's obviously been stolen.

"If I come in with an old, short piece, that's clearly scrap, but if I come in with a run of 10 or 20 or 30 feet, that's clearly stolen copper," he said. "We need these facilities to say no to this and then notify authorities when it happens."

Thieves steal half-mile of copper piping in Fayetteville Thieves steal half-mile of copper piping in Fayetteville

MacRoberts said that most local salvage companies are vigilant.

"A lot of places are on board with helping us out," he said. "They'll take photos. They'll take driver's licenses. They'll take pictures of the copper when it comes in."

West Park now has security patrolling the premises around the clock, Nye said.

"If (thieves) decide to go out to West Park Apartments in search of copper, I think they're going to be sadly mistaken," he said.

The theft is still under investigation, and police say they have not identified any suspects.


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  • davidbh61255 Dec 8, 2011

    The scrap yards are like pawn shops, they are complicite after the fact. These thieves and junkies are 50% of their best patrons.

  • djofraleigh Dec 7, 2011

    The roof of the old Envy club at New Bern Ave & Milburnie Rd in Raleigh, across from Wake Med has right many HVAC units ripped apart crudely and from the look of it had the copper taken from them about a week ago. I saw it and called it in to the RPD so the owners could be notified. Again, what a waste. Thieves are parasites on society.

    Those would call such theft non-violent crimes and advocate for light sentences clash with me. I say I'd rather the B&E of my house get more time than OJ killers, who are of no danger to the rest of us.

  • djofraleigh Dec 7, 2011

    I hate a thief...doing $25,000 damage to gain $250 in scrap copper...destructive in nature

  • usemailinator Dec 7, 2011

    "make sellers get a permit or show state issued before buying their goods"

    SInce we began requiring ID's to pawn anything, nothing stolen has turned up in a pawn shop in the last 20 years.

  • usemailinator Dec 7, 2011

    "make sellers get a permit or show state issued before buying their goods"

    Ah yes, we need more laws! Since we made permits required to buy a gun, violent crime has stopped.

  • edbuck51 Dec 7, 2011

    make sellers get a permit or show state issued before buying their goods

  • Qwerty27807 Dec 7, 2011

    I took some junk batteries to a local scrap yard. In line in front of me were three guys turning in perfectly-fine aluminum ladders. The scrap yards are complicit in this all over the country.

    I hope the builder replaces the copper with PEX, or he'll get hit again. (It's cheaper, faster, and not a target for thieves.)

  • 6869735 Dec 7, 2011

    They may need it to refuel their spacecraft in order to get home for the holidays!

  • anonemoose Dec 7, 2011

    I've seen scrap yards that have been notified that stuff is stolen and they still buy it and crush it.

  • smcallah Dec 7, 2011

    "Seems as a reputable scrap dealer would be able to spot new copper piping and report it. Also agree with the security guard or hidden cameras."

    There are about zero reputable scrap dealers. As soon as they pay pennies on the dollar for this scrap, they immediately crunch it or smash it.

    They don't want to have "Property of Durham County" manhole covers hanging around for too long on their property.

    Ever seen a working scrap yard? It looks like pure chaos. Very easy to hide something.

    I've seen people pulling into the scrap yard near where I work with new looking water heaters with pipes still leaking water out. And the line to get in the place is 10 trucks long.