Rainspouts disappear from southeast Evanston as value of copper increases
The thefts began a week after copper’s market value reached an all-time peak of $4.60 per pound in early February, according to the London Metal Exchange.
Though the department has not caught the thief, Officer Scott Sophier, who regularly patrols the area, said he suspects the crimes are related.
“When they start happening in large numbers in one concentrated area, it’s usually indicative of a person or group of people who are going out at night and committing thefts in clusters,” said Sophier.In response to the eight reports between Feb. 10 and March 1, the police department has boosted its coverage in the alleys and streets surrounding Ridge Avenue, where seven of the eight thefts occurred. “No one seems to be certain as to what time the thefts are occurring,” said Sophier, “but based on the information we have, I spend the first couple hours of my shift driving around in the alleys around Ridge.” Sophier said he hopes the increased police presence will deter more thefts. The suspect drives a gray pick-up truck, according to crime reports. And residents like to see police taking the thefts seriously, he said. “We want them to know we are paying close attention.” Two Chicago scrap dealers, Redline Metals and Alpha Metals Co., said they would pay $2 to $3 per pound of used, un-melted copper. Rainspouts, often made of a mixture of copper and aluminum, are typically 20 feet long and weigh 1 pound per foot, meaning the eight downspouts could have been worth $400 to $600. Both companies buy copper scraps, then re-sell them to companies that melt the metal and turn it into products such as wire, car radiators or roof panels.