SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

January 15, 2014

Copper thefts plague North Shore

By Terri Ogan
Staff Writer

---- — SWAMPSCOTT — Over the last two months, the North Shore has been hit by a rash of copper material thefts.

Last week, Marblehead police issued a community alert notifying residents of copper heists occurring at four homes within two days. The alert conveyed that residents must exercise vigilance and pay extra attention to their property.

In addition to the thefts in Marblehead, Swampscott police released a statement regarding several hundreds of dollars worth of copper downspouts stolen from Swampscott Town Hall, as well as from other locations.

The Holy Name Church on Monument Avenue was hit twice, along with a residence on Burrill Street and one on Littles Point Road, according to police log entries. All incidents took place in the last seven days.

Swampscott police describe suspects in the Swampscott Town Hall copper downspout thefts to be two white males, according to a recent statement. A neighbor also reported a small, gray pickup truck with a cap in the area at the time of the incident.

In Salem, police responded to a larceny call on Wednesday, Jan. 8, where copper downspouts were reported stolen from the front of a residence on Lafayette Street.

“We respond very quickly, and I think we have a pretty good handle on it,” said Salem police Chief Paul Tucker, who hosts monthly regional detective meetings to pool information and discuss ways to confront ongoing situations. “Unfortunately, though, it’s become an epidemic.”

Tucker added that Salem has had about five or six incidences in the last two months and has successfully cleared 90 percent of them by way of arrest.

Beverly Police cited three copper larcenies at two elementary schools in Beverly between Dec. 23 and Dec. 28.

Due to the recent increase of episodes, officer Mike Boccuzzi said police have beefed up patrol around all schools in the city.

“There are several agencies throughout the North Shore that had similar problems,” Boccuzzi said. “We’re all working together on this.”

Suspects typically try to sell stolen materials to companies that specialize in the purchasing, trading, recycling and exporting of metal and other materials in the area. Local police are working with those companies in identifying the copper culprits.

“I remain concerned, but I think local law enforcement is getting a good handle on who is responsible,” Tucker said.