Copper theft on the rise in Portsmouth

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Vacant homes in Portsmouth have become targets for copper theft, according to police.

Investigators have seen a spike in the Glenshellah, Merrimac Point, Parkview, Shea Terrace, West Parkview and Port Norfolk neighborhoods. The thieves are reportedly stealing copper pipes from unoccupied houses.

“I definitely don’t love to hear that,” said Liz Vonderheide, who lives in the historic Port Norfolk area.

“It’s getting bad,” said Lynn Stephenson. “So many people are without jobs and they’re just trying to support their families, it’s sad that they have to go in that direction.”

Vonderheide said that there are several vacant properties in the neighborhoods, and that the empty homes tend to attract bad behavior.

“There are some patchy areas,” she said. “A couple of abandoned houses or houses that have sat empty for like a year.”

Stephenson and her husband have lived in the neighborhood for more than 30 years. The vacant properties are a concern of theirs, along with the numerous alleys.

“There’s alleys all around here,” David Stephenson said. “There’s no lighting… it’s a big concern, I mean, it’s a public thoroughfare so anybody can walk up and down.”

“There’s a lot of people that just sort of wander,” said Vonderheide. “You never know if they’re just taking the closest path to get home or if they’re up to something sketchy.”

Police are asking folks to be on alert and to report anything suspicious around unoccupied homes or elsewhere.

“We’ve always been on alert,” said Stephenson.

Investigators aren’t sure exactly when the thefts are occurring, seeing that the homes hit are unoccupied.

Anyone who has information is asked to call the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.

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