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Detroit’s New Mayor Says Stopping Illegal Scrappers Is ‘Life And Death’

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(WWJ Photo/Pat Sweeting)

(WWJ Photo/Pat Sweeting)

LANSING (WWJ) In his second trip to Lansing since being elected as Detroit’s mayor, Mike Duggan brought a plea with him: Stop the copper thieves.

“Our city is being torn apart by illegal scrappers,” Duggan told WWJ’s Tim Skubick. “People are restoring houses only to find the hot water heater gone or the furnace is stolen. Our businesses are having to put barbed wire around the air conditioners on the roofs. Our schools, at times, have been shut down.

“It’s life and death to us.”

It’s also deadly to the scrappers who turn in copper and metal for the going rate — $3 to $4 a pound. Two years ago, two scrappers were killed in an abandoned nursing home in Detroit when the roof collapsed while they were inside. In another incident a year ago, the body of a scrapper was found in a Detroit sewer after he ventured inside searching for things to sell — and never came out again.

Most recently, scrappers sidelined a major and long-awaited project in Detroit when they stole copper wiring for new LED freeway lights installed through a $3.2 million program.

Investigator Scott Lewis reported that from Conner to just west of Cadieux, every single light is out at night. East of Cadieux to Eight Mile Road, the outages are sporadic.

The ones that are working are turned on during the day to deter thieves; that means working lights are on during the day, and the freeway is dark at night.

The lack of copper wiring has also left emergency message boards dark.

A package of bills that would require scrap dealers to wait three days before paying for copper wire and other items, and prevent them from accepting items that were obviously stolen, is pending in the Senate after passing the House; Duggan is hoping to push it along.

“It is certainly costing us people in the city,” Duggan said.

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