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Foreclosed Homes Prove Tempting Targets For Thieves

By Mike Wheatley | August 5, 2011

Foreclosed homes have become a big target for thieves, tempted by such easy pickings as left-behind appliances, bits of copper, electrical fittings and anything else they can find in properties left vacant.

Foreclosed homes

Foreclosed homes are being targeted by thieves. Image courtesy of BBC World Service

One of the most common scams, brought to the attention of real estate professionals by the National Association of Realtor's Memphis branch, is for thieves to pull up a truck outside a foreclosed home, remove the old “For Sale” signs, and then break inside the property and start helping themselves to anything of value that they can find. Typical items which are removed include air conditioning units, light and plumbing fixtures, copper from inside the walls, furniture and kitchen appliances.

Copper especially, has become a hugely tempting target since prices shot up in the last year by more than $1/pound.

As Mandy Creech, a RE/MAX real estate agent explained to McClatchy-Tribune Regional News:

"We've had it where they took the cabinets, the sink, the toilet, the lights, everything,"

But it’s not only that things are being stolen, the foreclosed homes are also suffering extensive damage as well. For example, in one incident that was described in the McClatchy-Tribune Regional News, thieves turned on the taps of a home they were stealing from, leaving the water running for four days before it was discovered by the real estate agent responsible for the property.

copper pipe thieves

Expensive copper piping draws thieves to foreclosed homes. Image courtesy of Andy Putnam

Local authorities have been making efforts to frustrate the thieves in recent months, for instance by making the sale of an air conditioning unit or its parts illegal without a HVAC License.

Another initiative, led by the Memphis Association of Realtors, in concert with home builders and chambers of commerce, has proposed that local authorities initiate something called a “tag and hold” policy affecting the sale of copper. Under the initiative, anyone selling copper pipes or something similar to an official merchant would need provide an ID and also leave a thumbprint.

You can read the original article here.

Mike Wheatley is the senior editor at Realty Biz News. Got a real estate related news article you wish to share, contact Mike at [email protected].
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