9 ways scrappers are destroying Detroit area

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After three long years, lawmakers and Gov. Rick Snyder finally approved a law that will make it more difficult for scrap metal thieves to exchange their stolen goods for money.

Under the bill, signed into law Thursday, scrapyards are required to take photos of scrappers and their metal. Anyone who brings in air conditioning units, catalytic converters and copper wire worth more than $25 must have a check sent to them and cannot be paid in cash.

So how destructive are scrappers? In Detroit, they steal manhole covers, gut historic buildings, schools and churches and rip out light poles.

1. Schools

Dozens of vacant schools have been gutted by scrap metal thieves. For a few thousand dollars, scrappers can destroy a school in days, costing Detroit Public Schools and other districts millions of dollars. Some of the schools recently gutted were Southwestern High School, Jackson Intermediate, Parker Elementary-Middle School and Hutchins Intermediate.

A scrapper removes metal rails from a school gym.
A scrapper removes metal rails from a school gym.
Parker before
Parker Elementary-Middle School
Parker Elementary after scrapping.
Parker Elementary after scrapping.
Former Highland Park High School
Former Highland Park High School

 

2. Manhole covers

In the past two years, thousands of sewer and manhole covers have been stolen, creating hazards for unsuspecting pedestrians, motorists and bicyclists. The cast iron lids, which weigh between 50 and 240 pounds, fetch scrappers between $10 and $25 at local scrap yards,

The city can't afford to replace most manhole covers.
The city can’t afford to replace most manhole covers.
A Detroiter fell into this open sewer hole in April 2013.
A Detroiter fell into this open sewer hole in April 2013.
Manhole stolen on Gratiot.
Manhole stolen on Gratiot.

 

3. Century-old graves

Thieves stole mausoleum doors, gates, stained glass windows, marble and other material at Woodmere Cemetery last year.

The copper doors and stained glass window were stolen from the mausoleum of Oscar Rosenberger, the owner of the San Telmo Cigar Company.
The copper doors and stained glass window were stolen from the mausoleum of Oscar Rosenberger, the owner of the San Telmo Cigar Company.
Mausoleum of Henry and Gertrude Wineman, which was robbed of its ornate door and stained glass window. The interior was damaged.
Mausoleum of Henry and Gertrude Wineman, which was robbed of its ornate door and stained glass window. The interior was damaged.
Marble and doors were stolen from this mausoleum.
Marble and doors were stolen from this mausoleum.

4. Churches

Some of Detroit’s historic, most beautiful churches have been hit hard by scrappers.

Woodward Avenue Presbyterian Church and its organ pipes on Woodward were heavily scrapped.
Woodward Avenue Presbyterian Church and its organ pipes on Woodward were heavily scrapped.
St. Agnes Church with copper steeple.
St. Agnes Church with copper steeple.
St. Agnes Church without steeple

 

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