Police warn public to protect against metal theft

(AP Photo/Danny Johnston, File)

SANTA ROSA (KRON/BCN) — Police in Santa Rosa warned the public on Friday to keep an eye on construction sites and abandoned buildings, which have been increasingly popular targets for metal thieves in recent years.

Vacant and foreclosed homes provide an ideal environment for metal theft but occupied structures with air conditioners, unsecured crawlspaces or exposed electrical equipment can also be targeted, police said.

In many cases the physical damage done to the building far exceeds the value of the metal being illegally salvaged – which drives up the cost of replacing the stolen metal dramatically, according to police.

Owners of businesses, construction sites and abandoned buildings are encouraged to keep equipment and scrap metals in locked buildings, or well lit areas surrounded by fencing.

Remove any hiding spots provided by brush and shrubberies. Make rooftops difficult to access by removing trees, ladders, scaffolding, dumpsters and pallet piles that could be used to climb up, police said.

Avoid having metal wiring or pipes delivered to a job site early and make sure someone’s available to secure them immediately after delivery.

Police also advised business owners to mark metal materials with the company’s name using paint, decals or engraving equipment.

Residential property owners are advised to spray the copper tubing in their air conditioners and utility rooms with fluorescent orange or green paint and remove landscaping or fencing to make the air conditioner easier to see.

Homeowners can also engrave their address on the air conditioner and copper tubing in various places to make it harder to sell if stolen, police said.

Cameras and surveillance systems are also recommended, according to police.

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