Robbers targeting work vans, tools in Delaware County

UPPER DARBY, Pa. - September 11, 2013

The bandits strike in the early morning hours.

At All Phase Electric on West Chester Pike within just a few minutes they emptied one van of its equipment and drove off in another.

"All the power tools, all the hand tools, all the materials in one van. The one van alone, we're talking about $50,000," said All Phase's Lou Staino.

All Phase is not alone. Authorities in Delaware County believe the thieves are responsible for 18 jobs in Aston, Marple, Haverford and Upper Darby, where there have been a half dozen thefts since July.

"Whoever is doing it knows what they are doing," said Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood. "Some of the vehicles had GPS devices, and they knew how to get rid of the GPS so we couldn't locate the trucks."

Chitwood says a PECO substation had a truck and other equipment ripped off. In all, he estimates the losses at $200,000 in his township.

"We believe they are dumping the equipment somewhere, and obviously someone is buying it up," Chitwood said. "There is no way they are stealing all this equipment and just keeping it."

"It's hurtful for the technicians, it's real hurtful to the company," said Bob Clayton, a supervisor at Wm. Henderson in Broomall.

The large plumbing and heating company had a truck stolen last week. It was filled with specialized cameras and equipment. It was found empty in at 48th and Girard in West Philadelphia.

The company has surveillance cameras, but they didn't provide any valuable evidence.

"We are looking into better security, but for now it's hard," said Clayton.

A task force has been set up with Upper Darby police and the surrounding jurisdictions as police try to break up the criminal ring responsible.

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