Remember that I wrote about this happening here in Argentina after the 2001 crisis? Phone and power cables, manhole covers and bronze door knobs, even park statues being stolen for its metal? How this turned out to cause other problems like phone lines going down often, specially in bad neighborhoods? Or people falling into manholes during storm flods because the covers had been stolen?
Well this is happening in USA already and coming to a town near you.
October 5, 2010
SALEM — For the second time in less than a year, thieves have stripped the copper gutters off of a local radio personality's historic home.
And while Neil Chayet's "Looking at the Law" radio commentaries typically end on an upbeat note, Chayet is anything but as he once again goes about having his home repaired.
"It's very disappointing, almost unbelievable," Chayet said.
Two men, Steven Kenney, 24, and Joshua Boschard, 25, both of 3 Gates St., Beverly, are due in Salem District Court this morning to answer to charges that they were stealing the copper off Chayet's Winter Street home late Friday night.
Chayet called 911 after hearing some noises outside and then seeing three men taking down the costly metal downspouts.
He was careful not to do anything to alert them, which could be the reason that two of the men were caught so quickly, Kenney after a chase by police across Salem Common; Boschard on Webb Street, where he tried to convince a passerby to tell police that he had been with him.
Kenney allegedly told police that he needed $900 to pay court fees in a case, as well as his rent and a car payment.
According to court records, both Kenney and Boschard have lengthy criminal records, which include prior drug and larceny charges, and were not only on probation for earlier offenses but have other pending charges against them.
Both were able to come up with the $500 cash bail set over the weekend by a court clerk magistrate at the police station.
The skyrocketing prices for metal has led to a spike in thefts of items ranging from gutters to electrical cables filled with copper wires to manhole covers.
"It's amazing, to me, to go through this again," Chayet said.
Last March, Chayet and his wife, Martha, were in court for the sentencing of two other young men who had been caught stealing copper off of the home.
The couple had lovingly — and at significant expense — restored the 1811 structure, which was once the home of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story.
The Chayets took an interest in the two suspects, and eventually got to meet with John Roberts, 22, of Wakefield and Ian Burke, 23, of Lynn.
They had hoped to impress on the young men the value of preserving history. The men agreed to perform community service and pay restitution, in exchange for having the charges dismissed in 18 months.
Chayet was already feeling a bit burned even before Friday's theft. "I've been somewhat disappointed in how that's turned out," he admitted yesterday. He hasn't seen a dime of restitution, he said.
Now he wonders whether he made a mistake in not insisting that Roberts and Burke be made an example of with a harsher penalty.
About the only upside is the "outstanding" work of the Salem police who caught Kenney and Boschard, Chayet said.
"We have to find some way to break this culture of crime and violence," he said.