Metal Thieves Creating Safety Hazards In Parking Ramps

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Thieves are now stealing brass from parking garages and ramps all over the metro.

In Edina alone, seven thefts have been reported in the last few months. And not only do the thefts damage the garages, they also put those who use them in danger.

If a car catches fire in a ramp, for instance, fire engines can’t fit inside, so firefighters would typically use brass standpipe plug-ins on each floor. But now they can’t, because someone is stealing the standpipes, said Todd Porthan, a paramedic and firefighter in Edina.

Thieves that steal metal to sell it at scrap yards used to go after copper. But now the new metal of choice, according to detective Tom McKenzie with Edina Police, is brass.

“[The thieves are] very opportunistic. They’re always finding something else they can scrap,” McKenzie said.

Brass is going for about $2 a pound, so a single standpipe, which weighs 10 pounds, could only get scrapped for about $20. For the property owner, one the other hand, the damage could cost thousands.

Porthan, the firefighter, says authorities have come up with a way for firefighters to use their own hoses in parking ramps, but it’s slower.

Soon such thefts won’t be a problem in some of the parking ramps. Those ramps will be switching to non-brass hardware, a metal that’s not so easy to scrap.

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