In a series of crimes notable for the heavy lifting they required and the relatively meager rewards they brought, thieves in a Washington area county recently took more than three tons of used car and truck batteries, authorities said.

Over two months, the thieves lugged about 180 batteries from enclosures at two Wal-Mart stores in the Glen Burnie and Laurel areas, Anne Arundel County police said.

A Wal-Mart Web site said that when customers bought new batteries they usually left the old ones behind, and these were stored for recycling.

During six break-ins, police said, the thieves pulled the batteries from the enclosures — by hand — to be sold as scrap. According to police data, each weighed 35 pounds on average and would have brought about $10.

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