Copper thefts on the rise in Alexandria

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WJLA) - Oscar Fitzgerald says the theft happened an hour after he went to bed last weekend:

"All the sudden, ‘bam bam bam!’ I get up and think, ‘what in the heck is going on?’”

He never imagined thieves were stealing four out of his five copper downspouts.

"That was the last thing I ever thought about – it sounded like somebody was running into a car or something,” he said.

Fitzgerald has replaced the four downspouts with new, much harder to steal ones, costing him about $3,000 total:

"You try to make an honest living, and then these people just rip you off.”

The thieves also came to Kathryn Schmidt's home this weekend, but failed.

"I guess they just pulled this whole thing off…it's in there really well, so they weren't able to do it, so we got lucky that time,” she said.

Alexandria Police say there have been more than 14 thefts in a month, and it's not just homes being targeted. The thieves have also hit Westminster Presbyterian Church, George Mason Elementary – and look at what they did at St. Stephens and St. Agnes' elementary campuses.

Officers say the crooks are stealing downspouts because it's a relatively easy process.

"They're on the outside of a house, you don't have to go to a construction site or actually break into a building,” explained Crystal Nosal with the Alexandria Police Department.

"It's ridiculous. I don't even think they would get much money for this, it's crazy that they are taking such risks,” said Schmidt.