Copper copped from Md. churches

| June 11, 2010

Is nothing sacred?

Montgomery County detectives are searching for a suspect caught on a security camera May 6 carting away copper downspouts police say he pulled off the United Church of Christ at 1 Westmoreland Circle in Bethesda.

Police say the same man is believed to be the culprit in seven other thefts of copper pipes and downspouts through May 28 — most from churches. most pulled from the sides of buildings, most taken overnight between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m..

The suspect is described as a white male, 5’9” to 6’1” tall, 180 to 190 pounds, with brown or black hair. He was wearing a blue t-shirt, blue jeans, and black boots in the video.

In his 30-second cameo role, the fellow walks right past the cheap aluminum stuff. So how much is copper fetching as scrap? During the time these thefts occurred, copper guttering went for about $2.40 a pound but was down to $2 as of Thursday, according to Mark Zwilsky, president of Potomac Metals, which has sites in Northern Virginia.

And should scrap yards be buying suspect metal? "Any yard worth its spit these days takes down a seller's driver's license number or tag or some ID," says Zwilsky.

The other Montgomery County copper thefts connected to the suspect in the video are:

* May 12 at Grace Episcopal Church, 1607 Grace Church Road, Silver Spring
* May 17 at Norwood Park building, 4700 Norwood Road, Chevy Chase
* May 18 at a building at 5501 Randolph Road, Bethesda
* May 23 at St. Paul’s Church, 10401 Armory Avenue, Kensington
* May 25 at St. John’s Evangelical Church, 9700 Rosensteel Avenue, Silver Spring
* Between May 24 and May 28 at St. Jude’s Church, 12701 Veirs Mill Road, Rockville
* Late May at Christ Episcopal Church, 4100 Franklin Street, Kensington

Anyone with information regarding the suspect or the incidents is asked to contact the 2nd District Investigative Section at 301-657-0112 or the Montgomery County Police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000.

This isn't the first time we've reported on church copper thefts in the area: In April we reported on copper thefts in Anne Arundel.

Later that same month, we reported on some air conditioner thefts, also in Anne Arundel, that police believed were motivated by planned copper sales.

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Category: Church Security

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