Brass stolen from water mains near businesses

December 23, 2009 3:55:27 PM PST
A string of metal thefts has several businesses cleaning up. Crooks are grabbing valves off of pipes. They're hitting places along the Gulf Freeway corridor in League City. Employees we talked to were very surprised they were targeted as brass is not often stolen for money. One says the thieves might have been confused. Either way, several businesses found themselves without water once their water mains were broken.

On Tuesday, business at this paint and body shop in League City came to a standstill after thieves ripped out a brass fitting on the water main line.

"We fix cars then actually wash them when we are done with them. So we can't deliver any cars without having them clean," said Toby Youngberg of the Bill Fogle Collision Center.

With no water to work with, they ended up cleaning up after the metal thieves.

"The parking lot was full of mud over here where it all washed away and filled up about three inches deep over here," said Youngberg.

Just a couple of miles down the Gulf Freeway, a dry cleaning business is still dealing with a broken water main. The defective PVC pipe still litters the ground outside their business. Unfortunately, it's something they've become accustomed to over the last four years.

"Four or five times, it's been taken," said Isabel Delgado of Manchester Cleaners.

In all, thieves hit nine businesses along I-45 in League City and Webster. League City police say it all happened overnight on December 21 from about 11pm into the early morning hours.

"It appears that they knew exactly what they are doing and exactly what they are looking for and we assume that they are taking the brass valves to get money from recycling them," said Sgt. John Jordan of the League City Police Department.

With brass not fetching near the price that copper does at scrap yards, Youngberg is not so sure the thieves are quite the metal connoisseurs.

"They were after copper, I assume, because it's worth a lot of money and it turns out they got brass, so it didn't work out for them as well as they had planned," said Youngberg.

We checked with local scrap yards and brass goes for about a dollar less per pound than copper.

There is a vague description of the getaway vehicle. A red full-sized pickup with custom rims and a partial license plate starting with the numbers, 535.

If you have any information, you're asked to call League City police at 281-338-8207.


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