Copper thieves target Philadelphia construction site, electric vehicle charging stations

Charles Watson Image
Saturday, May 18, 2024
Copper thieves target construction site, EV charging stations
Copper thieves target Philadelphia construction site, electric vehicle charging stations

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia police are searching for a man who allegedly stole hundreds of dollars worth of precious metals from a construction site in Germantown.

The incident happened May 14 at 5:56 a.m. on the 5600 block of Germantown Avenue. Security video released by police shows a man walking around the site. He's later seen pulling back a wood door covering and breaking into the site. The man exits with black bags full of what police said was copper wiring.

Police described the man as wearing a blue jacket with tan sleeves, a black hooded sweatshirt with a hood over his head, blue t-shirt, and gray sweatpants with the word "nope" in white lettering. He was also said to be wearing black sneakers and black work gloves.

Colin Farrell, the site superintendent, said the suspect stripped temporary wiring that provided electricity to a building he and his crew are working on for Covenant House. It's a nonprofit that provides housing and resources for homeless youth.

"It's just really unfortunate they're stealing from an extremely good cause," Farrell said.

In total, the suspect got away with about $700 worth of precious metals. It also delayed work on the Germantown site for a couple of days.

Farrell said the burglary was unfortunately an issue at most construction sites.

"In construction, everyone sees and has eyes on it and wants to get in and steal because there are a lot of opportunities with it not being fully finished to take pipes and wiring really easily," Farrell told Action News.

The price of copper was up nearly 30% year-to-date. Scrap metal shops told Action News that copper today could sell for as much as $4.15 a pound.

Thieves looking to capitalize have even started targeting electric vehicle charging stations, cutting the cords and stealing copper inside. Four Electrify America charging stations located at 7126 Ridge Avenue were recently vandalized.

The company told Action News in a statement, "Due to vandalism, the Electrify America chargers at 7162 Ridge Avenue in Philadelphia will remain unavailable. We are working with local law enforcement as to the source of the property damage. The negative impact on EV drivers is unfortunate, and we hope the matter will be resolved quickly. We will provide an update in the Electrify America app when the chargers become available."

William Goldman, who said he uses the charging stations to charge his vehicle every couple of days, said the act was outrageous.

"It's making it hard for people who live in the area and want to charge their car up," Goldman said.

Kevin Dejoinville said he was concerned that fewer charging stations would result in longer wait times.

"It's bad enough I got to wait hours sometimes to charge and now my alternate place all four of them got hit," Dejoinville said.

If you have any information about these incidents police ask that you call Northwest Detectives Division at 215-686-3353.

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