LANSDOWNE, Md. (WJZ) — Caught on camera. Bold thieves steal expensive central air units in broad daylight to sell for scrap metal. And police say it’s part of a massive metal theft problem in Baltimore County.
Meghan McCorkell has more on the growing concern.READ MORE: Now That Students Have Returned To The Classroom, One Question Remains: Are Children Safe?
The most recent theft happened in the Lansdowne community just after 7 a.m. Thursday. The whole thing was caught on surveillance camera.
Two minutes and thirty seconds. That’s how long it took brazen thieves to steal a massive air conditioning unit and load it into their Dodge Durango early Thursday morning.
“You’re talking about four or five thousand dollars,” said Larry Borden, victim.
Borden was shocked to see the video caught on his neighbor’s security camera. Those same cameras show two men, casing Borden’s home days before. The night before the theft, one comes back and detaches the unit, walking away with a copper pipe.
“It was shocking and actually scary because it happened right in my driveway. It happened right here,” said Randy Wight, neighbor.
Police say this theft is part of a much bigger issue.READ MORE: 'I'm All About Ellicott City' Ellicott City Residents & Business Owners React To Number 10 Ranking On Money Magazine's 'Best Places To Live List'
“This is a problem that’s just skyrocketed in recent years. We’ve seen the number of metals thefts more than triple over the last several years,” said Elisa Armacost, Baltimore County Police,
Police say the number of thefts involving copper has increased 450 percent since 2011.
Last May, a man stealing copper inside an abandoned hospital staged a four-hour standoff with police. Four employees were caught stealing more than $80,000 in copper from the Aberdeen Proving Ground.
The problem is pervasive that Baltimore County Police have created a metals theft task force.
“This could happen to you. This could happen to anybody out there,” Borden warned.
This Lansdowne neighborhood is now fighting back, forming their own block watch. Their goal is to put these bold bandits behind bars.
Those men did try to steal AC units at other houses in the neighborhood, but got scared away by someone walking their dog.MORE NEWS: Audit Finds Electronic Tolls Overbilled Maryland Drivers
The state has passed laws requiring scrap dealers to collect information about the people who sell them metal.