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'Rash of brass thefts' leads to unsolved copper capers

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On the rough and tumble streets of the Minneapolis suburbs, a little brass in pocket can get you some serious coin.

At least that's what the Star Tribune is reporting, as scrappers gather up sprinkler systems, swivels and standpipes, leading to unalloyed consternation from local police department ... er, brass.

Bloomington, Edina, Eden Prairie, St. Louis Park and other cities have reported a rash of brass thefts from parking ramps and buildings with sprinkler systems since late last year, the Star Tribune reports. According to the paper, valves and swivels apparently are being stolen so theives can capitalize on scrap brass prices, which have reporteldy reached $2 per poun.d

Though not exactly pennies from heaven, thieves have made off with 10 valves from an Eden Prairie mall parking ramp valued at $4,000.

But this is serious. Let's get down to brass tacks.

“This can be a life-and-death issue at buildings,” St. Louis Park Fire Marshal Cary Smith told the Strib. “If those caps or plugs are missing, pipes can be plugged with rocks or birds’ nests and ... we might not be able to connect with the [water] system at all.”

Many cases are open--Bloomington has had 15 alone--and even fixtures in churches and schools aren't safe.

This is not, however, a local phenomenon.

The Washington Township Police Department is investigating numerous recent thefts of brass irrigation back-flow valves, reports the South Jersey Times.

And police in Egg Harbor Township, N.J., are investigating the theft of 16 brass grates from various mausoleums at the Laurel Memorial Cemetery, according the local ABC affiliate in Philadelphia.

For the love of Liberace, a cemetery? Guess it goes to show that even when you're dead as a doornail, you better cover your brass.

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