Metal thieves arrested in Sarasota

August 9th, 2011 by Staff

SARASOTA – From manhole covers to aluminum siding, if it’s metal, thieves will find a way to steal it. Just ask Bobby Teachy.

“It’s obviously frustrating that somebody would do this amount of damage for a couple hundred dollars,” Teachy said.

Teachy is president of Woody’s Tomato Corporation in Manatee County, where thieves broke in last June and tore it apart.

They stripped 20 different air conditioning units, stealing copper wire and aluminum. Even churches are getting hit.

St. Marks in St. Petersburg was targeted twice. New Life Pentecostal in Tampa was trashed too.

“It was kind of a sickening feeling to think, not only someone would break into a church, and try to take things, but that they would have such a low regard for property that they would destroy cabinets and destroy air conditioning systems, do thousands in damage, to find a hundred dollars of stuff,” said Reverend Tom Atchison.

Sarasota deputies say enough is enough. They busted a staggering 62 people for stealing copper and burglaries. And if you think it’s because of the economy, the sheriff says, think again.

“They’re more willing to take somebody’s air conditioner and take scrap off the side of a vacant home or foreclosed home in lieu of going to get jobs. These are not people that are down on their luck trying to get a job. They’re not homeless. They’re just common day criminals that we have encountered on a regular basis,” Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight said.

Investigators say most of them are addicted to prescription pills. Detectives spent two weeks going undercover at scrap yards. They recovered stolen cars and more than 2,000 pounds of metal.

“People know their communities better than anybody, so we’re asking for everybody to be diligent with us to call us. If it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t right,” Sheriff Knight said.

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