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PD: Ind. copper thieves hitting houses for sale

Posted at 11:28 PM, Oct 14, 2015

AURORA, Ind. — Police are investigating a string of copper thefts hitting at least 11 vacant Aurora homes within the last month.

Aurora Police Chief Josh Daughtery said investigators believe all of the recent cases are connected, particularly because they have one thing in common: there’s a 'For Sale' sign out front.

“(They’re) very soft targets when you have vacant houses like that,” Daughtery said. “There’s nobody there.”

He said it creates a situation where thieves can easily slip in and out, in the meantime ripping apart power boxes and smashing through walls, leaving behind thousands of dollars in damages.

Elizabeth and Bob Ray said they discovered they’d been victim to such theft just minutes after closing on what was to be their new home.

“It was the day of our lives we just signed for our house,” Elizabeth told WCPO. “As soon as I pulled up, we see that our AC unit had been taken out.”

The Rays described the scene she and her husband found: doors ajar, wall panels ripped apart, the water meter and all the attached piping gone.

“All of the copper that was on top of the hot water heater was cut off,” Bob said. “(It) had to be replaced.”

And they said it looked like this wasn’t the thieves’ first hit.

“You can tell they’ve done this before,” Elizabeth said. “In my heart I had a feeling it was going to happen again.”

Daugherty said cases like these, historically, are connected with drug use, thieves looking to sell the copper to feed an addiction.

“We’ve canvassed the neighborhoods,” Daugherty said. “We’re hoping to get some leads from maybe somebody who’s seen something.”

Meanwhile, the Rays are left picking up the pieces.

Elizabeth called the experience “devastating — happiness that just was robbed, taken away from our family.”

Bob said he hopes fellow homeowners become more cautious as police investigate.

“I want people to recognize around this area to keep their eyes open,” Bob said.

Daugherty said the burglaries are happening mostly at night.

Anyone with information on these types of thefts are urged to call Aurora police as soon as possible, at 812-926-1101.