SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Copper thieves stole pipes right out from under a home that's for sale in Rolando. It has some wondering if this is part of a new crime trend.
Experts say it took a copper thief 10 minutes at most to crawl underneath the empty house, and using a professional plumber's tool, cut out 100 feet of piping. It's a crime that's usually carried out at commercial buildings, and now targeting vacant homes.
When Paul Carsola noticed his vacant home had no water pressure over the weekend, he thought the city had shut it off. But days later with still no water, he uncovered the real reason.
"All the high value copper under my house was taken away," he said. "Not in a million years did I think someone would go under my house to take copper of all things."
Plumber Greg Altmeyer, who was hired to replace the stolen pipes, believes this copper-cutting operation was a professional job, taking the thief or thieves only about 10 minutes to complete.
"I've been doing this 23 years and I've never seen where they've gone under a home and removed copper. I mean, that's how bad it's gotten out there," Altmeyer said. This is a plumber most likely. If not a plumber, someone who was taught by a plumber how to cut copper."
It's a setback because Carsola has already spent a considerable amount of money fixing up his home to put on the market. He must now spend even more to replace the pipes.
"This is a serious blow," he said.
"Quick to take out, hard to put back in, that's the cost difference. He'll get a couple hundred bucks, (Carsola will) spend a couple grand. It is sad," Altmeyer said.
To avoid being targeted by copper thieves, authorities recommend that homeowners keep any trap doors or openings to their home's basement or crawl space closed and locked.