Copper thieves target pool pumps

FRESNO, Calif.

Cities across the Valley have cracked down on copper theft and now the thieves are turning from street lights to expensive pool pumps. Just to replace one pool pump costs about $600.

On hot Valley days pool pumps are working overtime. And crooks, it seems, are working just as hard to steal pool pump motors, specifically for the copper inside.

Clearwater Pool and Spa in Clovis fell victim to the copper crooks. Recently, the shop had a pile of old motors sitting outside. They were collected from customers over the course of about two months as crews swapped them out for new ones.

"There's no other use for 'em, other than recycling copper," said employee Justin Bishop.

The motors were stolen overnight. Bishop said the crooks broke through the back fence. "They bent that whole pole forward, and came in here and stole all the motors," he said.

Bishop told Action News the burglary happened twice. He and other Valley pool service companies tell Action News foreclosed homes are also being targeted.

"We'll go out to people buying these foreclosed homes and there's just pipes coming out of the ground," Bishop said. "They literally kicked them, they weren't cut they are broken."

Replacing an entire pump system can cost a new homeowner at least two thousand dollars.

As for Clearwater Pool and Spa, old motors were not copper thieves' first target.

The valuable metal was stolen from the roof-top air conditioners. Bishop said replacing the units and installing cages to prevent future theft cost the building's owner several thousand dollars.

Police said they have not received reports of pool motor theft from homeowners. But the pool service companies we spoke with say since they're mainly seeing the theft at foreclosed homes the crimes are likely going unreported.

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