NBC10Philadelphia.com - Katy Zachry
Thieves are ripping copper pipes off of empty homes in South Jersey. At least nine homes have been hit in Maple Shade, NJ.
Police are on the hunt for thieves who are targeting copper in several homes in Maple Shade.
On Sunday, shortly before 10 a.m., police responded to a vacant home on the 200 block of West Germantown Avenue after neighbors noticed their yards were flooding.
Investigators say the pipes from the house had been cut out, causing the crawlspace to flood which led to water pouring out of the house and onto adjacent properties. The water department was called in to excavate in front of the house and shut the water off at the street.
"You can't sit at night without thinking something is going to happen," said Steven Grone, who lives near one of the homes that was targeted. "It's scary that they can get into a house, shut the water off and rip out a couple pipes."
Grone is friends with the property owner who discovered the break-in and missing copper pipes when she checked on the house Sunday morning.
"It ended up costing them thousands of dollars to replace it," said Grone. "It's not like they took it apart nicely. They just ripped stuff off the walls and ran out."
Around 2:40 p.m., police were called to another empty house on the 200 block of South Forklanding Road where the copper pipes had also been stolen. Police also say similar crimes have happened on the following days at the following locations:
Investigators say all of the houses that have been targeted are either up for sale or unoccupied. Police suspect the people responsible for the copper thefts are “blending in” and are being mistaken for legitimate work crews.
Police are urging all Maple Shade residents to be aware of everything going on in the neighborhood.
"You want to beef up security a little bit," said Matthew Nixon of Maple Shade. "But I know my neighbors and if they saw anything going on, they would call."
If you notice any suspicious activity, please immediately call Maple Shade Police at 856-234-8300.