Thieves target church downspouts


For the second night in a row, thieves removed downspouts from St. Athanasius Catholic Church at Lincoln Street and Ashland Avenue in north Evanston, according to Cmdr. Jay Parrott of the Evanston police.

From time to time, downspouts made of copper are stolen from buildings in the area, often at construction sites, but churches are prime targets, according to Parrott, because they are usually vacant late at night.

In the latest incidents at St. Athanasius, downspouts were stolen Thursday night, then more were removed over the weekend. A total of six 30-foot downspouts were taken, according to the police report. The value of the downspouts taken was estimated at about $4,000.

While the price of copper fluctuates daily, it is currently bringing about $3.50 a pound, although it has been as high as $4 within the last year.

Parrott said that some churches have installed surveillance cameras, although lighting the premises has been found to be somewhat effective as well, he said.

Because the removal of copper tends to be noisy, and thieves tend to work late at night, Parrott recommends that citizens call the police department if they hear suspicious metallic sounds in the middle of the night.

A newspaper in Brooklyn, N.Y., quoted a scrap dealer recently as saying that a good rule of thumb for scrap dealers is to “think twice if someone shady shows up with manhole covers, funeral plaques, or 20-foot lengths of copper downspouts tied to the top of a 1970 VW  Beetle.”

Charles Bartling

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio stations and business-oriented magazines.

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