IMPD: Metal, catalytic converter thefts double from 2009

INDIANAPOLIS - Thieves are targeting copper piping and catalytic converters in Indianapolis, and they're doing so at an alarming rate, police say.

Now, a new University of Indianapolis study reports that the worldwide demand for metals is having a big impact in Indiana.

Darren Frye is among those hit in the recent spike in thefts. He said he parked his utility truck on the city's southwest side overnight. It's an area that has seen more catalytic converter thefts than anywhere else in Indianapolis this year.

"It's upsetting. It's frustrating," Frye said. "It's costing me money not to be able to get to my jobs this morning. It's cost me a few hours. So yeah, it's frustrating."

According to the University of Indianapolis study, catalytic converter thefts have doubled in the past five years.

In Fountain Square, Emily Schaab also had her catalytic converter stolen while her SUV sat on Prospect Street.

"I made some phone calls, stayed on the phone with my husband all the way home just in case," Schaab said. "It was scary."

The University of Indianapolis says the city averages 11 metal thefts per day, compared to only seven thefts per day five years ago.

The problem has grown worse despite the adoption of stringent city codes that regulate who can scrap precious metals, catalytic converters and air conditioning equipment. Metro police say the city's scrap metal is simply heading out of the county.

"They know that a lot of counties don't have any way to track it," said IMPD Detective Larry Craciunoiu. "They don't monitor it. They know there are people that they can sell these items off."

On the northeast side, Ty Fouse says he's been rehabbing a home. Two nights ago, scrap metal thieves broke into the house and stole brass fixtures and all the copper pipe and copper wiring from the basement, kitchen and bathrooms.

"If you need money, there's plenty of work out there," Fouse said. "Just go out and get it. But man, stealing, it ain't the way to go. You may be hurting, but you're hurting someone else as well."

IMPD says the metal thefts are highly concentrated in just a few areas of the city.

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