Peoria Fire Department warns seemingly harmless copper thefts can be life-threatening

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PEORIA, Ill.– The Peoria Fire Department wants to warn residents about the dangers of copper thefts.

The Fire Department says thieves steal copper pipes and wires from homes to make a quick buck, and many times when a copper pipe is stolen from a water heater, a gas leak occurs.

“By stealing copper, like you said it makes it easy to make a dollar, it’s not traceable to individuals. A lot of times recyclers don’t know where it’s coming from, but it’s a danger to the community,” said Capt. Steve Rada of the Peoria Fire Department.

At 9:00 p.m. Thursday Ameren reported dangerous gas levels to the Peoria Police and Fire Departments at 1315 Monroe Street.  Crews shut down Monroe Street from Spring to Laveille and evacuated 10 homes in the area.

Rada says these seemingly harmless crimes can be life-threatening.

“There’s always the potential for an electrical hazard as far as getting electrocuted. Obviously there’s water in pipes, so there’s an electrical hazard. As far as copper goes with gas lines, obviously there’s an explosion hazard that can happen,” Rada said.

Rada says the Fire Department’s main goal is to keep civilians and themselves safe and these situations can cause extreme danger for anyone nearby.

“There could be water leaking out of basement windows. We’ve had places where we’ve gone in and there’s been water 7 or 8 feet tall or up to the first floor. There’s times where people smell gas outside and they’re wondering where that comes from and sometimes that’s from a residence and it’s an extremely dangerous situation,” said Rada.

Pedro Vega was working in his family’s bakery on the corner of Monroe and Laveille during the gas leak, he says he’s glad the situation was handled and no one was injured.

“I was right here outside but I didn’t smell gas leak. I stayed there for like half an hour,” Vega said.

And as it is for all crime, Rada says it’s important the community stays vigilent and alerts authorities if they see anything unusal.

“If a neighbor does see something like that, they need to report that immediately. If you see suspicious activity, people coming and going into a vacant home, ovbiously that’s not normal and you need to report that immediately,” Rada said.

Now that the weather is getting nicer out, Rada says these kinds of events could be happening more frequently.

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