By Brad Segall And Liz Hur

LOWER MERION, Pa. (CBS) – Police in Lower Merion say the township has seen a recent uptick in the number of copper thefts.

Lower Merion still has a number of older homes and apartment buildings that still have copper downspouts. Police say they prove to be attractive to thieves looking to make some quick cash.

In late March, police say there was a flurry of activity with thefts reported in Wynnewood and Haverford. Lieutenant Frank Higgins says tough economic times make it a crime of opportunity.

“With the increase in the cost of scrap metal, that’s one of the primary targets and several of our apartment buildings have been targeted in the township.”

One building in Wynnewood had sixteen sections of downspout taken. Police say someone also walked off with a century-old wrought-iron fence from a home in Bryn Mawr.

Higgins says they really need help from the public to try to solve and prevent these crimes.

“Except for a pickup truck traveling down the road with copper sticking out of the back of it, we’re kind of at a loss sometimes to apprehend these guys, because they’re operating under the cover of darkness or when people aren’t home.”

So, Higgins says it’s not easy for them to get a handle on these types of crimes, but says, “We have been successful in prosecuting a few people that have been caught, because they actually go back to doing the same type of crime.”

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