Thieves targeting toilets in Delaware Co.

June 25, 2008 7:24:39 AM PDT
Some fast food restaurants in Delaware County, Pa. outside Philadelphia have fallen victim to thieves who are focusing on take out. They're not taking out food. They're taking plumbing from the bathrooms.

Police in Brookhaven, Pa. say they know economic times are bad. But now, fast food restaurants are quickly learning that not even the plumbing is safe.

Brookhaven Police Chief John M. Eller told Action News, "When you go into a fast food restaurant, you expect to come out with burgers or something, but you don't expect to come out with a pipe."

In the last few days, a number of fast food restaurants have been hit along Edgemont Avenue in Brookhaven. First it was a Burger King: Someone stole the chrome-plated brass pipes from the men's room urinal and toilet.

Then it was the men's room at the McDonald's.

On Tuesday, it was the KFC restaurant. Again, someone took the plumbing from the urinal along with the sensor that automatically flushes.

In each case, police say, the thief knows enough to shut off the water so the restaurant doesn't flood. "Apparently, they are going into restaurants and removing the pipes and I guess taking it some place to sell it," says Chief Eller.

The only thing that apparently saved a Wendy's restaurant nearby is that they have a security device that makes it more difficult to remove the plumbing. A similar theft was reported at the brand new Chick-Fil-A restaurant on McDade Boulevard in Folsom about a month ago.

The theft of pipe, and in particular copper, has become a big problem in recent months across the tri-state area. Theives are apparently looking to make a quick buck by selling the pipes to scrap metal dealers.

Investigators say a growing number of property owners at the Jersey shore have returned to their properties to discover the copper plumbing had been stolen. Construction sites and even historic churches like Tabernacle Baptist have been targeted.

Stealing metal is also becoming a dangerous business as one man found out in Upper Darby, Pa. Police say he tried to steal copper from a live high voltage wire and got a 3,400 volt jolt of electricity that sent him to the hospital with severe burns.

"Apparently it has to do with the economy I guess, they're looking further and further for things that they can turn in and get money out of," said Eller.

Police are presently working on surveillance footage from one of the restaurants that they'd like to distribute. Anyone with information is being asked to call Brookhaven Police at (610) 876-6142.