Police Warn Of Copper Theft Problem After Gas Leak

Danville, VA -- Danville Police are on high alert for whoever caused an estimated 2,000 gallon natural gas leak.They believe the suspect was trying to steal a copper pipe when they intentionally cut a line Thursday morning at Abercrombie Oil off Riverside Drive.

Now police say this should serve as a warning, that copper theft is a very serious and dangerous problem. Police say the suspect was trying to steal what only would amount to about $9 or $10 worth of copper. But they caused thousands of dollars in gas leaks and damage, something that will go towards the suspect's charge, if caught.

All Metal and Auto Recycling specializes in purchasing scrap metal but with bank-like security. They do everything possible to prevent thieves from bringing in stolen items.

"Copper theft is very serious right now. With the economy down, the people that need the money, whatever it takes," says Bill Weaver, Co-Owner of AMA.

Weaver tells us they get a few people in every week that they suspect are trying to sell stolen copper.

"If we suspect, we will call the police as soon as we suspect. And we are pretty good at suspecting," says Weaver.

Weaver says they have an elaborate system of cameras and double check IDs. That way if someone is in question, they can help direct police.

"It's one of the biggest problems we have," says Cpt. Dennis Haley, Danville Police Department.

Haley tells us they get reports of stolen copper regularly. And just this week while the Abercrombie Oil suspect didn't get away with any metal, they will get several charges, if they're caught.

"When they are stealing copper they cause more property damage than the value of the copper itself," says Haley.

Haley says not only does this crime often cause material damage it can also kill you.

"It happens more frequently than people think. If you go check the sources over the past few years, there have been four or five deaths where people were trying to steal again less than $20 worth of copper," says Haley.

Police believe the Abercrombie Oil suspect likely did get frostbite. If you have any information on this case, call Crimestoppers at (434)793-0000.

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