Metal thieves target backyard pools on Eastside
Reporter: Valerie Cavazos
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- A detention space is just where some metal thieves are ending up. And now they aren't just targeting abandoned buildings and street lights. They are actually scoping out your back yard.
Tucson Police say thieves have been stealing metal parts and that's costing Eastside homeowners thousands of dollars to repair and replace -- by hitting backyard pools.
It was a first for Tristan Laubhan. He was surprised at what he didn't find in his backyard --- near his pool. "I''ve never had anything stolen."
And he certainly wouldn't imagine anything like this. "I came over to start the pool pump to start cleaning the pool for the day and I noticed that there was nothing left."
Tristian showed KGUN9 reporter Valerie Cavazos the new pump -- made of plastic -- that he had just purchased. The old one was mostly metal and that was what the thieves were after.
'They had actually tried to cut through the pipes --- so it looks like they just manhandled it -- broke it off and then ran off," he said.
He wasn't the only one -- thieves also targeted nearby neighbors. Cavazos asked Lt. Tom Earley of the Tucson Police Department if this was a big problem now. He replied, "We hadn't seen pool pumps before not at any volume. We started noticing them in June -- a few of them -- and they started taking off in July."
So Lt. Earley added old pool pumps to the growing list of metals that theives are stealing and then selling. As part of the Metal Theft Investigation Plan (MTRAP), TPD investigators scoured the targeted areas and it didn't take long for police to make some arrests.
35-year-old Brett Geraci, 24 year old Joshua Wellner and 36-year-old Roger Crace were charged with multiple felony counts. "We were fortunate to find this vehicle coming out of a neighborhood in the early morning hours and stopped it and they had 8 pool pumps inside the vehicle." Most of the victims of those thefts have been identified.
Investigators have 56 confirmed cases, but they believe that there might be other victims that have not yet come forward to report the theft of their pool pump. They're encouraging homeowners who haven't reported their pumps stolen -- to call 9-1-1.
Tristan paid $2000 dollars to replace the pump and he's seeing to it that nothing is stolen from his backyard again. "Yeah, actually we're putting up motion detectors and you bet we're going to protect the place," he said.
TPD also recommend:
Securing your property
Registering your pool pump with manufacturers and keep documentation of the make, model, and serial number
Calling 9-1-1 if you see any suspicious activity around your neighborhood.
Police say metal thieves will look for anything in your backyard and house.