Copper burglars hit Pelham home

2008-03-20 00:00

Burglars focused solely on stealing copper piping and brass fittings, ignored everything else in the Pelham house they broke into, but left a scene of devastation in their wake.

The burglars even smashed a hole in the ceiling to reach the copper piping and fittings on the geyser, which they cut away, leaving the water to flow out and flood the house.

Most of the ceilings were destroyed and all the walls watermarked and peeling. Furniture and the contents of clothing and food cupboards were ruined.

The homeowner, who wishes to be known only as Pat for security reasons, is a single mother who has lived in the house for the past five years with six orphaned nieces and nephews. Pat works for an NGO that assists vulnerable children and the destitute.

“When I came home on Friday evening I heard the sound of gushing water and thought I had left a tap running. But when I got to the front door there was water seeping out from underneath,” said Pat.

Inside she was confronted with what she calls “a scene of unmitigated vandalism and destruction”.

“The carpets were water-logged and the wooden furniture was warping. Everything in the cupboards was destroyed and the kids’ toys were floating in pools of water. All the copper piping and brass taps had been ripped out, as well as every bit of copper piping and brass on the outside walls that they could find,” said Pat.

“They even destroyed the large picture windows in front so they could break in. The entire house was uninhabitable.”

Pat and the children have been put up at by friends and church groups. All the furniture has been moved out, the carpets raised and workmen are trying to fix their home by Easter.

“The worst thing about this is the effect it has on the children. Most of them come from unhappy or violent backgrounds as it is, and when this sort of thing happens in what they have come to see as their home, it has a very unsettling effect.”

An SAP detective investigating the case said that it is a worrying sign that theft of copper has extended to domestic homes. “This is the first case of domestic copper theft I’ve come across,” he said.

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