Thieves target unusual items

October 1, 2009 3:29:14 PM PDT
There's a warning for homeowners in Galveston. Police are on the lookout for thieves who've been stealing from historic homes. In at least one case, the thief even posed as an employee from a group in charge of preserving Galveston's history. Police say all kinds of items from shutters to door knobs are disappearing from homes in parts of Galveston. A local resident who caught the thief in the act brought it to the attention of the Galveston Historical Foundation. Members say the crime itself poses a serious threat to the island's history.

One by one, an alarming number of vacant historical homes on Galveston Island are being targeted. The thieves are not stealing just anything.

"Nicer doors, such as this, with great detailing on it," explained Matt Farragher with the Galveston Historical Foundation. "With these thefts, there's a market for it."

Even decorative antique wood columns are not off limits.

Farragher said, "They'll take them, turn them into other things. And they can fetch a hefty price because they are made of solid wood, they're historic."

What's more, on at least one occasion one of the thieves, who was caught in the act, claimed to be an employee of the Galveston Historical Foundation.

Galveston Historical Foundation Executive Director Dwayne Jones said, "It's very disturbing for us because we're very careful with our employees and we're very careful that they are properly identified."

The foundation manages a salvage warehouse full of the very same items that are being ripped off. The items housed there are donated. The thefts not only end up costing homeowners, in some cases they pose a danger to the structures themselves.

"They've taken these columns and the porch has actually fallen down on itself," Farragher said.

The stolen items are often resold at antique shops. With renovations and construction at an all time high, demand is on the rise. The foundation warns if these thefts continue the consequences could be serious.

Jones said, "When you start removing that kind of stuff, not only does it lose the value of the house it loses the collective value of the whole island, as we market it as a historical place."

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