Business Owners Say Copper Stolen During Storm-Related Power Outages

Thousands of dollars in damage to get a few dollars’ worth of copper

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Some businesses in Prince George's County say they were ransacked in the aftermath of the weekend storms.

    Some businesses in Prince George's County say they were ransacked in the aftermath of the weekend storms.

    Thieves targeting copper piping moved in while the power was out Saturday, store owners said.

    Aqeel Khan said thieves went behind his Shell gas station on Old Branch Avenue in Clinton, Md., and stole less than $10 of copper piping off his air conditioning unit.

    “We already paid about $2,400, and it’s up and running now,” he said about the unit.

    Some store owners believe thieves took advantage of storm-related power outages. When the lights went out, their security cameras went to black.

    “We didn't have power, so that was the main reason why they did it because they know they can’t get electrocuted and the cameras are not working,” Khan said.

    Thieves had the same idea for the 7-Eleven next door. They climbed on the roof and damaged several air conditioning units to get the copper pipes. For about $20 worth of copper, they caused $25,000-$30,000 in damage, estimated Paul Carossi of Miller Refrigeration, Inc.

    Copper thieves recently hit the Clinton Station shopping center, causing more than $100,000 in damage. New units are wrapped in cables that set off an alarm when cut.

    Brian Pappas, of Mama Stella’s Ristorante, said they’ve added more spotlights, wireless cameras and signs alerting people about the surveillance in an attempt to dissuade potential thieves.

    Dick Estevez said his Universal Metal Products has been hit by thieves numerous times, and he wants police to take the crimes more seriously.

    “I’ve called to report the incident, and they ask, ‘Do you want us to write a report?’” he said. “And I said, ‘I want you to come out and write a report.’ ‘Well, we don’t have time for that.’”