Thieves target brass fire department connectors in Philadelphia

NORTHERN LIBERTIES (WPVI) -- Thieves are targeting the brass used in fire department connectors. The Philadelphia Fire Department noticed a big surge in the thefts about 6 weeks ago. They've circulated an internal memo alerting firefighters to the problem. It's not just the crime. Fire officials say it's a serious safety issue for home and business owners.

Deputy Commissioner Craig Murphy told us, "Anywhere you see these fire department connections, if it's brass, they're ending up taking them. Brass is worth a lot of money on the open market. And they know they can sell them, but what it's doing is putting our firefighters, and just as importantly it's putting the community at risk."

Murphy explained that the firefighters attach their hoses to the connectors to pump water into internal sprinkler systems and extinguish flames more quickly. The brass connector lasts longer in the elements, but the metal is valuable and likely sold for scrap. Northern Liberties resident, Matt Dunphy, recently noticed his brass connector was gone.

"It's a giant pain in the neck," he said. "And, it endangers the neighborhoods that we're in. It's not just mine that's gone. This is something that's happening up and down 2nd street, from Fishtown down into Old City."

The theft at his home was captured on his home surveillance camera. A man casually walked up, tinkered around for about 20 minutes, and walked off with the brass connector hidden in a piece of fabric. Replacing the connector cost him about $400 for parts and labor.

Firefighters are concerned that property owners may not even realize the connectors are missing which could be a big problem in the event of a fire. They are urging residents to check their connectors to make sure they are intact.
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