Reynoldsburg police are investigating a string of thefts throughout the city involving copper materials being taken from homes.

Reynoldsburg police are investigating a string of thefts throughout the city involving copper materials being taken from homes.

"We've had a number of copper thefts - quite a few, quite frankly. It's kind of unusual because we haven't had copper thefts in some time," Lt. Scott McKinley said.

Detective Mike Binder said since Dec. 8, there have been at least 18 such burglaries in Reynoldsburg.

Binder said the thieves are targeting vacant houses, most of which have "for sale" signs in front of them. Once the thieves gain access to the houses, they remove copper pipes and wires.

He said the most recent theft occurred on Friday, Jan. 21, at a house under construction on Retton Road.

"There have been a number of copper thefts throughout the central Ohio area in the past few years, but the recent cases in Reynoldsburg are new," Binder said. "We haven't had anything like this before. We might have had copper stolen in the past, but nothing where we've identified a significant pattern when they keep happening over a couple months' time span."

McKinley said "for sale" signs in front of houses would indicate that there may not be anybody home and thieves can get in work on taking the copper pipes out without being disturbed.

"Because normally, it takes a little while for them to get those pipes out it's unfortunate," he said.

The most recent cost of copper per pound in Ohio ranges between $3.30 and $3.50. McKinley said thieves can take copper to any number of scrap metal dealers in the area and sell it without much problem or inquiries.

"There's a few places around town that will buy it and they're required to get their identification, and that's about it," McKinley said. "I guess times get tight and people decide they can sell copper.

"Copper is pretty valuable and I guess it's better than a big-screen TV in some cases," he said.

Binder said he could not share specific details on how he is conducting the investigation or say whether the thieves are juveniles or older. He did say scrap metal dealers won't typically buy from juveniles.

He advises homeowners and owners of homes that are for sale to be vigilant and to tell their neighbors to keep an eye out.

"Maybe ask neighbors you trust to park their car in the driveway to maybe make it appear that someone is there, or set timers on lights in the homes, " Binder said. "If it's vacant and you have the ability to close curtains and blinds so someone can't look in and see that it's clearly a vacant house, that would be a good thing to do."

Binder encourages anyone who might suspect suspicious activity in their neighborhood to report it to police immediately by dialing 911, or if it is not an emergency, to call (614) 866-6622.

He said Central Ohio Crime Stoppers is also offering an award up to $2,000 for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for the crimes.

Information can be reported to Crime Stoppers by calling (614) 645-8477.