Copper thefts in Northern Virginia cause damage

Copper thieves have struck eight times this summer in one Northern Virginia jurisdiction, leaving behind not only missing pipes, but also gas leaks and water damage, police said.

Stealing copper, often sold as scrap, has caused problems in the Washington area, and across the country as well, with the metal priced at about $3 or $4 per pound.

Published reports from several states say the thefts have intensified miseries during an unusually hot summer, as air conditioners are stolen for their copper coils.

In Prince William County, police have listed eight houses at which thieves took or apparently tried to take copper piping. Most of the cases were in the Dale City area and involved homes that were vacant or under renovation.

The heaviest water damage, $25,000, came in the first of the incidents, at a vacant house in the 14900 block of Concord Drive in Dale City, where police said copper piping, although not taken, was cut from a water heater between June 25 and June 29.

Later, police said, copper piping was taken July 24 or 25 from a house being renovated in the 14300 block of Ferndale Road in Dale City. The piping was valued about $50, but its loss led to $10,000 in water damage, police said.

The latest incident came late Sunday or early Monday at an occupied home in the 14700 block of Darbydale Avenue in Dale City, police said. About $3,000 worth of piping was gone; damage was estimated at $1,000.

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