A copper thief has struck again in East Providence.
Approximately $1,000 worth of copper piping was cut out of the basement ceiling and the oil burner at a vacant home for sale at 51 Bishop Ave. in Rumford.
The owner reported the theft to the East Providence police on Sunday, Aug. 25, after he stopped by the house around 11 am. It is not known when the house was entered.
The owner found the basement door ajar with a bar that holds it shut removed, according to the incident report filed by police. The owner found that the thief entered the home after kicking in a basement window.
The thief then used blankets and ceiling tiles to cover the basement windows to shield the basement from outside view, according to the police report.
Copper pipe valued at $900 also was reported stolen in late July from the basement of a vacant home up for sale at 3509 Pawtucket Ave. in Riverside. That theft is believed to have occurred between July 16-17.
Thieves are targeting copper because it has a high market value and it can be sold for quick cash to secondary metal recyclers. Vacant and abandoned houses are prime targets for copper thieves, who take pipes, gutters, wiring and even air-conditioning units. Copper theft is seen as a $1 billion a year industry in the U.S. by the federal energy department.
There is new legislation that could help to thwart copper thieves in RI. At least the new Copper Theft Prevention Act will make it much harder to sell the stolen metal in RI next year.
The act requires secondary-metals recyclers to obtain a license from the Attorney General’s office to purchase certain types of metals.
The act also requires purchasers to obtain identification information from the sellers of metals, and establishes a procedure for purchasers to record transactions, keep those records on file for two years and present those records for inspection by any law enforcement agency seeking to review them.
Violators would be guilty of a misdemeanor and face a fine of up to $500 and/or a year in prison. If the value of the property involved in the transaction exceeds $250, the monetary penalty can be raised to $1,000.
The law goes into effect on Dec. 31.