Knoxville homeowner offers reward to catch copper thief

Knoxville homeowner offers reward to catch copper thief

Posted:
A Knoxville man is offering a reward after he says thieves made off with copper wiring from a home he owns. A Knoxville man is offering a reward after he says thieves made off with copper wiring from a home he owns.
Edward Meek had a newly restored home on Glenwood Avenue rented, until thieves caused thousands of dollars of damage and made off with all the copper. Edward Meek had a newly restored home on Glenwood Avenue rented, until thieves caused thousands of dollars of damage and made off with all the copper.
The stolen copper is often brought to scrap yards to be traded for money. The stolen copper is often brought to scrap yards to be traded for money.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A Knoxville man who makes a living repairing and renting out homes says he is fed up with copper theft.

Over the past year he's had four different properties in Northeast Knoxville broken into, causing thousands of dollars of damage.

He says no arrests have been made and no restitution has been paid in his cases, so now he's taking matters into his own hands to catch the thief.

This homeowner is not alone. Recently, even a scrap metal yard in Knoxville was broken into and copper was stolen. The thefts are impacting more people than just the property owners.

Edward Meek had a newly restored home on Glenwood Avenue rented, until thieves caused thousands of dollars of damage and made off with all the copper.

"They broke into the house and stole all the electrical wiring, cut it off under the floors. They came back in and took parts of the air conditioner," said Meek.

This was the last straw for Meek. He's had four other Knoxville properties broken into in the past year. He wants the copper theft to stop. He says so far, police have not been successful, so he posted a sign offering a reward for information.

"So, we have decided we are going to try and do it on our own so we are offering a $1,000 reward for anyone who provides information and leads to an arrest and a conviction to the crime," said Meek.

Meek says when the thieves break in to steal the copper, they cause thousands of dollars of damage, which he has to pay for.

Meek is not the only one impacted. Steven Smith has been repairing the home to be rented, but the missing materials keep him from being able to do his job.

"It's very frustrating. It puts me out of work, and when I'm out of work, my family suffers," said Smith.

The stolen copper is often brought to scrap yards to be traded for money. Copper goes for almost $3 a pound, but some scrap metal yards like the Tennessee Metals Company have officers on site deterring thieves. There are also laws to prevent people from bringing in stolen metals.

"We require ID and a vehicle description, and most people who are stealing are not wanting to give that information up to connect them to the material," said Tennessee Metals Company warehouse manager Chad Davis.

While some scrap metal yards do their part to deter the thefts, Meek will do what he can to help police find the person who's been stealing from him.

"I just hope somebody comes up and earns that money. We want a conviction," said Meek.

Just down the road from Meek's property on Glenwood Avenue, another air conditioning unit has been damaged with all the copper ripped out.

The warehouse manager with Tennessee Metals Company says the value of copper shot-up in 2008 causing the increase in thefts.

Knoxville Police Department spokesman Darrell DeBusk told 6 News a total of 17 thefts had been reported of air conditioners or copper from air conditioner units between August 1 and October 2.

DeBusk says suspects mainly look for abandoned or empty homes, but they will also look for homes that have concealed units because it is easier to hide.

Many thefts happen at businesses when they are closed.

He says prevention measures include making empty houses look lived-in, knowing your neighbors and watching out for each other, and calling 911 to report anything suspicious.

A good description of suspects and their vehicle can also help.

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