Massachusetts realtors seeing rise in copper tubing theft cases

On behalf of Brian D. Roman, Attorney at Law on Wednesday, November 13, 2013.

When a thief attempts to steal something, many think they would go after a big-ticket item such as a TV, computer, car or collectible item. However, thieves in Massachusetts are going after copper tubing in vacant homes on the real estate market, causing problems for home buyers, sellers and real estate agents.

Copper tubing is in high demand because it can be easily sold to scrap yards for some quick cash. Some thieves have gone as far as opening walls and taking not only copper tubing, but aluminum ductwork and electrical wiring as well. In one case, a suspect was attempting to steal copper tubing from the cellar of a home in Springfield and ended up causing a gas leak, forcing many people nearby to evacuate from their homes. A few months ago, commercial air conditioning units were stolen.

These recent theft cases are a cause of concern for many. Once the copper tubing has been removed from a home, it cannot be financed through a conventional home loan. This eliminates about 95 percent of those looking to buy a home. Instead, a rehab loan would be needed or an investor could fix up the home and sell it. This makes it difficult for real estate agents trying to sell houses.

Punishment for theft crimes can vary widely, depending on the type of theft. When a person goes to the trouble of opening up walls in order to steal copper and aluminum, that's an extreme form of theft. It involves not only taking property, but destroying it as well. This can be frustrating to those trying to sell their home.

Those who have been charged with theft crimes need a strong defense. It's a serious situation when a person destroys another's house in order to obtain copper tubing. With the right legal help, though, the charges can be lessened.

Source: ABC40, "Copper Tubing Thefts a Constant Problem" No author given, Oct. 31, 2013