TOLEDO -- Many Toledoans used the long holiday weekend to celebrate, reflect and just relax. But scrap metal thieves were busy at work, targeting businesses and neighborhoods, reports News 11's Shelley Brown.
Most recently, thieves hit a business at Detroit and Nebraska and a home on Colburn, near South Ave.
When Lewis Babona opened for business Tuesday morning at the G & M Food Mart he owns, he noticed something wasn't right.
"I had a big chain, a real big thick chain with a lock on it, and it looks like it was wide open and the compressor was not running," Babona says. Turns out the lock on the gate around the compressor that powers the walk-in coolers was broken and his cooling system was shut down. Thieves had cut the copper piping and ripped off the aluminum downspouts.
The total bill, Babona figures, could run him up to $3,000.
Local scrap metal yards say precious metal costs have jumped in the last year. Aluminum, specifically old sheet aluminum, is selling for 64 cents a pound with copper fetching as much as $3.37 a pound.
"It's depreciating the value of neighborhoods around here. It's just become an eyesore on top of that," says Robert Springer, who lives along a south end block where, over the weekend, someone broke into his neighbor's home through a back window and stole copper piping.
"I think today's economy has a big thing to do with it," Springer speculates.
Babona believes the thieves aren't the only ones to blame.
"Whoever is buying this copper from the crooks, the thieves, they are the criminal. They are the criminal number one," Babona says.
Scrap metal prices have been soaring, largely because of rapid industrial growth in China. Some blame the demand on the massive construction work for the upcoming Olympics in Beijing.