Copper theft could damage community
Macon Realtor Freeman Lester says an overnight raid of copper wiring and tubing from one of his properties is just one incidence of what has become a major problem around the city.
"I've seen a tremendous increase in copper theft, air conditioner units being removed, from within the last couple months alone," Lester said.
His most recent property to be victimized is a former church building on Hillcrest Ave. Vandals broke into the building and completely gutted the ceiling tearing out wiring and tubing, leaving a heap of rubble in what used to be a children's worship room.
"It makes you feel outraged," said Carolyn Rainey, a member of the congregation that used to occupy the building.
Lester says while replacing the copper and fixing up the buildings comes with a price tag, the damages may have far reaching consequences.
"It increases foreclosures, it increases the amount of sub-standard houses that we have. Because if a person has to spend ten thousand dollars or so to improve a unit or bring it back up to standard they might not do it," Lester said.
Lester says in the long-term the thefts can end up driving down property costs and decreasing tax revenues for the city, and that's why he says people should take a stand.
"More needs to be done in the community to resolve this problem, I think, if somebody knows about somebody who is involved in this type of activity, they should let the authorities know," Lester said.
An electrician looking at the damage says the thieves probably made off with more than $1,000 of copper, but Lester says the damage reaches far beyond the cost of repairs.