A copper thief stole this week approximately $3,000 worth of copper piping out of a basement of a vacant home in Barrington that is up for sale.
The owner of the 4 Rustwood Drive home in Hampden Meados reported the theft to Barrington police on Thursday morning, Aug. 29. The theft is believed to have occurred sometime after Monday, Aug. 26, the last time the owner was in the house.
The thief entered the house through an unlocked basement window on the northeast side of the structure, according to the police report.
Thieves are targeting copper because it has a high market value and it can be sold for quick cash to secondary metal recyclers. Vacant and abandoned houses are prime targets for copper thieves, who take pipes, gutters, wiring and even air-conditioning units. Copper theft is seen as a $1 billion a year industry in the U.S. by the federal energy department.
There is new legislation that could help to thwart copper thieves in RI. At least the new Copper Theft Prevention Act will make it much harder to sell the stolen metal in RI next year.
The act requires secondary-metals recyclers to obtain a license from the Attorney General’s office to purchase certain types of metals.
The act also requires purchasers to obtain identification information from the sellers of metals, and establishes a procedure for purchasers to record transactions, keep those records on file for two years and present those records for inspection by any law enforcement agency seeking to review them.
Violators would be guilty of a misdemeanor and face a fine of up to $500 and/or a year in prison. If the value of the property involved in the transaction exceeds $250, the monetary penalty can be raised to $1,000.
The law goes into effect on Dec. 31.