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Thieves targeting copper on homes in the French Quarter according to neighbors

Published: Nov. 11, 2021 at 11:30 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A French Quarter resident raises the alarm about a certain kind of theft many people might not be thinking about right now, but he says it’s become a serious issue for neighbors over the past few months.

Thieves have been going after copper gutters and downspouts on historic French Quarter homes according to some residents.

“I was still inside dealing with my son, getting him ready for school and when I walked outside, I noticed that my flower basket was gone,” Micah Lowenthal said.

Lowenthal may have lost one of his new flower planters around 7 a.m. Thursday, but he gained valuable camera footage of the thieves, even capturing them circling and casing his house in a white car.

“They had come by about 20 minutes earlier, got up on my porch again, and then decided they needed tools because there were about 10 metal zip ties securing the basket,” Lowenthal said.

He says things like this happen to his fellow French Quarter neighbors often, especially when it comes to copper.

“They like to steal the gutters, the downspouts, and the other things that we have that are perceived as valuable for resale,” Lowenthal said.

The joke’s on these guys though, that planter wasn’t copper and now the NOPD Eighth District can take a good look at their faces and license plate. Something the 10 to 15 neighbors that reached out to Lowenthal were never able to get when their gutters and downspouts were ripped off.

“It’s a very lucrative kind of illegal business you know, they’re selling it and making some really good money out of it,” Dr. Ashraf Esmail, a criminologist at Dillard University said.

Esmail says he’s not surprised to see this.

“It’s a really hot time between the hurricane and October where you would you would suspect it to be going on,” Esmail said.

NOPD reports property crimes are down 11% throughout the city and city data shows exterior thefts are down nearly 43% in the Quarter, but Lowenthal doesn’t think the numbers reflect what’s actually happening with his neighbors.

“They don’t report it because nothing is ever done about it,” Lowenthal said. “And it’s unfortunate. We love the NOPD. We love the Eighth District.”

Esmail says other than homicides, crime stats are hard to track and you can’t really tell what’s up or down because he says national crime surveys find many people don’t report it.

“Not because they don’t feel like the police aren’t doing anything, it’s just very little police can do with these types of crimes,” Esmail said.

So, the next time you take a look at the historic architecture, Lowenthal says you might notice a lot of gutters and downspouts are missing.

“They don’t feel like they should be the ones to bear the cost of replacing these when the city is not going after these people committing the crimes,” Lowenthal said.

Lowenthal says the gutters and downspouts have to be ordered and can cost between $600 and $800, never mind what can be a lengthy process to get the replacement approved by the neighborhood commission.

If anyone has any information call NOPD Eighth District Detectives.

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