City Police Blotter

Natatia Bledsoe is the public information officer for the Fredericksburg Police Department.

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Copper stolen from two historic sites

Employees of two downtown historic sites reported yesterday that copper downspouts were stolen from the exterior of the buildings.   The thefts occurred at some time between 6:00 pm on Saturday evening and 9:00 am on Monday morning at the Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop on Caroline Street and the Mary Washington House on Charles Street.

Copper is generally stolen because of its lucrative cash value at scrap yards and recycling businesses.  Copper guttering is particularly vulnerable to theft because of its accessibility on the outside of a building and the typical ease of its removal and transport.

One of the simplest deterrents to this and similar offenses is exterior lighting that is controlled by motion detectors.  The bad guys are much less likely to commit their crimes under a spotlight.

Excerpt from today’s Crime Report:

Hugh Mercer Apothecary, 1020 Caroline St, 2/11 6:00 pm – 2/14 10:30 am.  An employee reported that two copper downspouts were stolen from the rear of the building.  No suspects or witnesses at this time.

Mary Washington House, 1200 Charles St, 2/12 6:00 pm – 2/14 8:45 am.  An employee reported that two copper downspouts were stolen from the rear of the building.  No suspects or witnesses at this time.


  • JOhn Gilmer


    There are some questions the story hasn’t answered to include:

    1) What is the value of the copper as “scrap?”

    2) Where would/could the copper be sold within “reasonable” driving distance?

    3) Are the police actively trying to “solve” this case or do they have a “boys will be boys” attitude?


  • Natatia Bledsoe

    Mr. Gilmer:

    In answer to your questions, the value of the copper stolen from these two sites was estimated at over $300. There are many locations in Virginia where one could sell copper and other scrap metals, including Summit Recycling in the City. The officer who took these reports already followed up with that business to make them aware of the theft, and Summit Recycling is very proactive in contacting our department when suspicious items are presented to be sold.

    We do take these crimes very seriously! In January, FPD arrested a man for stealing metal from CSX property, and in late November an officer made two good arrests after catching two suspects leaving a construction site with copper in the back of their truck. From both of those incidents, the offenders were charged with felonies.

    Natatia Bledsoe

  • Bay

    I think Mr. Gilmer might be joking.

  • Rufus

    The 55mph winds we had yesterday were definitely strong enough to knock down a downspout. People should check in their yards or streets to see if their downspout is there. The fact that we had the unusual gale-force winds yesterday might be the problem. Trash cans and lids also blew into the street.

  • Morons

    It was not the wind guys…It’s some low life thief bums that don’t have a job probably because they are idiots and have massive criminal records that would prevent them from working at even a 7-11. Outstanding members of society we are to let these clowns do what they want. Coppers gutters are a pretty uncommon occurrence in a scrap yard…they are almost always stolen watch the intelligence of there morons shine when they are caught red-handed at the scrap yard…

  • brandonj

    Fortunately it was just a downspout. The derelicts who steal copper have also been known to break into vacant homes to steel the copper pipes, causing thousands in damage. That was my biggest fear when we were trying to sell my grandfather’s house a few years ago. Fortunately for us, the security measures we took while the house was vacant and on the market worked What is probably needed here are some laws which regulate the sale of scrap metal. Scrap yards should have to keep records on what they bought from whom, and they should face draconian penalties for taking a “don’t ask, don’t tell approach” to buying their materials. While the local scrap yard may be ethical, I’d bet there are many out there who aren’t. It’s too bad that laws have to be passed to dictate basic ethical behavior and common sense, but obviously some scrap metal dealers value profits over ethical behavior and chose to do business with criminals.