Spike in metal thefts

WARSAW, Ind. - Metal thefts have once again spiked in Kosciusko County, and construction sites have become a popular place for thieves to hit. Houses in the process of being built may be empty, but just the wiring inside the homes can be worth several thousand dollars.

As the market price for metals increases, so do the number of thefts. The Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department has seen an increase of thefts from yards, barns, power lines, and construction sites since 2008.

But in the last two months, thieves have ventured into some new territory, newly built homes. “We’ve had anything from tools stolen to metal, copper, wiring,” Larry Hieman said as he supervised a construction site in Warsaw.

Hieman said the house he is working on doesn’t have any metal or wiring installed yet, but once it is in place he plans to beef up security.

“We’re pretty vulnerable sitting out here 24/7,” Hieman said he will use security cameras, but even that doesn’t really protect him.

Until doors and locks are put in, houses are basically left wide open giving thieves the opportunity to take whatever they want. Heiman said until houses can be totally locked up, they’re like sitting ducks.

Just west of Milford one home was stripped clean of all the copper and brass that had recently been installed.

“They’re all items people can turn into quick cash and the way times are now, people that don’t have money and don’t have jobs… They’re going to find a way to make money,” Hieman said.

To make money thieves need to take the metal to scrap yards and sell it, that’s why the Sheriff’s Department is teaming up with salvage yards in the area to make sure thieves can’t cash in on the hot metal.

“It’s tough to tell who is a ligament person is working on a home or someone who just stole it,” Cary Lewis said.

His family owns Lewis Salvage in Warsaw and he said in this business, everyone seems a little suspicious. But they do work with the Sheriff, keeping track of repeat sellers and taking down IDs and license plates of everyone who brings in brass or copper.

Still, the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department said this is difficult crime to keep prevent or catch, so they’re relying on the community to report any suspicious activity.

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