Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Thieves target foreclosed properties

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Aug. 8, 2011 – Thieves are continuing to prey on foreclosed properties, removing copper, appliances and other fixtures, and leaving behind a mess for those who have to sell it. Foreclosures often become prime targets because they’re vacant.

The Memphis Area Association of Realtors® recently warned its members of scams involving thieves who remove “For Sale” signs from yards, and then park a truck in the garage, making it appear as if they’re moving into the home. Instead, however, they remove items such as AC systems, kitchen appliances, light and plumbing fixtures, and copper from the walls.

“We’ve had it where they took the cabinets, the sink, the toilet, the lights, everything,” real estate agent Mindy Creech of RE/MAX on Track, told the McClatchy-Tribune Regional News.

Thieves are leaving behind damage to the properties too. In one incident, for example, thieves broke into a vacant home and started cutting the copper in the wall while the water was still turned on. The water continued to run for four days, even flowing into the streets before a real estate agent discovered it.

Copper has become a prime target, with copper prices rising by more than a $1 per pound in the past year.

State laws and city ordinances are trying to make it more difficult for thieves looking to make a profit off of stolen appliances and metals they remove from foreclosed properties. For example, some states or local governments have made it illegal to sell air conditioner parts unless you have a valid HVAC license.

The Memphis Association of Realtors also worked with chambers of commerce, homebuilders and other groups to get local governments to impose a 10-day, tag-and-hold procedure for some types of copper, like pipe, so that when metal is sold locally, the seller must show an ID and have a thumbprint made.

Source: “Foreclosed Properties Become Magnets for Thieves,” McClatchy-Tribune Regional News (Aug. 4, 2011)

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