COTTAGEVILLE, SC (WCSC) - Thieves who have been stealing copper from vacant mobile homes may have left their fingerprints and DNA at the latest crime scene, police said Monday.
Police Chief Charles Long said the suspects break into the homes, tear off the breaker box inside and the electric meter outside to get to the copper.
"They usually go inside, break into the home, remove the panel from the breaker box, pull the wire, cut it, come outside, pull it back through here, and they're gone," Long said.
It's a crime the owner of the home has seen too many times lately.
"That makes it number seven. The trailer here that they stole the copper on it," said Danny Lee Reeves. "It's just aggravating. We've been through it so many times and it's just not getting no better."
Long said the thieves took a big chance because there was power coming into the house and they could have been killed.
"That's why the power company tells you do not play around or pull this on your own. That's why they remove it with gloves."
The chief said this time, the copper crooks may have made a big mistake. He said one of them left a thumb print on the outside breaker box. He said the thieves also put their moist hands on the front door of the mobile home, possibly leaving their DNA.
"When you start leaving fingerprints around, that's just a calling card," Long said.
a family who lives across the street was surprised to hear the thieves were willing to risk their lives for the copper.
"That's crazy. It's getting desperate out here I guess," William Thompson said.
Reeves is offering a reward for anyone with information on the copper thefts. Anyone with information should call Cottageville Police at 843-835-2456. You can remain anonymous.