Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

May 4, 2013

Bill to reduce metal thefts is pushed

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — At one point, Schumer held up a copper pipe and a $100 bill, saying that thieves will no longer be able to trade one for the other.

“We’re going to work so that the last metal, the only metal, a metal thief can feel are the bars that he puts his hands around as he spends his time in jail,” Schumer said.

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said thieves often put people in danger by recklessly stealing metal that serves an important safety purpose, such as gas lines or manhole covers.

“For a small amount of financial gain these people are putting very, very large values at risk,” Dyster said.

Metal thieves also devalue neighborhoods and cities through their acts, not just the individual properties that they target, Dyster said.

“When you go and pull the copper out of one of those vacant building that still has the potential for renovation, you may have now doomed that house,” Dyster said. “It will never again be a home for a family.”

And thieves can cause issues for businesses looking to improve communities through renovations.

Metal thieves broke into the Fallside Hotel - which is being renovated by the Merani Hotel Group - and caused $20,000 worth of damage, ripping copper pipes through drywall. Similar stories have been told throughout Niagara County.

Faisal Merani, the president of the company, said the repairs will not stop the company from moving forward with the project, but dealing with the issues caused by thieves is discouraging for people looking to invest.

“It’s not going to stop us,” Merani said. “At the end of the day, we want to get that property open as soon as possible.”

Merani sees the measure as an effective tool to prevent metal theft.

“For any business margins are small,” Merani said. “It was $20,000 now and it could be another $20,000 tonight if someone breaks in. Anything we can do to help curb that, and this seems like a pretty inexpensive and easy way to do that.”

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