Copper thieves may be getting even more creative when it comes to getting what they want. Police say when Tennessee changed its law back in 2008 they noticed a dramatic drop in cooper thefts. And although the number of copper theft cases is up and down, it seems thieves are finding a somewhat shocking way of ripping people off.
Patrick McInturff has lived in North Knoxville for 15 years and said within the last month nearly half a dozen neighboring vacant houses have been targeted by cooper thieves.
McInturff said, "There are three I know are for sale and two for rent."
The most recent home that's been hit my thieves is only blocks from where McInturff lives. According to a report from the Knoxville Police Department, someone broke into the basement of the home that's been on the market for about a year and stole copper tubing, wiring, piping, and coils.
Darrell DeBusk with the Knoxville Police Department said, "I'm confident that they scrapped that metal."
The twist, however, is what else it's believed the copper thief did once inside the home.
In an online group discussion, the homeowner (who asked he not be identified) said the thief "put curtains and insulation in the windows so they could work in peace- obviously fairly experienced at this sort of thing".
Knoxville police say the key to protecting yourself if you are selling a house is to make it look like someone is living there.
DeBusk said, "Make sure there are curtains up. You may even want to put some timers on some lights and vary the time that the lights come on and go off."
McInturff, who has several homes on the market, goes a step further. He explained, "I've quit using yard signs for houses for rent or for sale and I know other people who have done that as well."
McInturff also said neighbors are keeping a close eye on vacant houses in their area.