After a month-long crime spree, a Colorado Springs man was arrested Wednesday morning. He's accused of stealing thousands of dollars worth of brass and copper, right out of people’s yards.
Corey Ryan Miller, 33, was arrested and charged with felony theft and felony criminal mischief. Investigators told 11 News they don’t believe Miller worked alone in these thefts all over the city, and added that more arrests could come soon. They do, however, believe this crime spree is over.
11 News was first to tell you about the Springs police investigation into sprinkler brass backflow valves being stolen from homes.
Investigators said they had approximately 150 reports, mostly in four Springs neighborhoods.
The first area, hit was the Wolf Ranch subdivision on the northeast side. Police told us they had more than 60 reports just in that area alone.
On Sunday, we talked to a homeowner whose backflow valve was stolen on Whip Trail. His home was one of 15 reported stolen near Oro Blanco and North Carefree that day.
Police told us the investigation and arrest added up to more than $60,000 in damages and more than $20,000 worth of metal.
We looked into Miller's background and he has been in trouble with the law before, mostly for traffic offensives like driving without a license. However, he's also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child abuse and criminal mischief in the past.
Previous Coverage 1/12/14:
Thieves are targeting more local neighborhoods and 11 News wants you to know about it. We first told you about crooks stealing sprinkler backflow valves in Colorado Springs a couple weeks ago.
Colorado Springs police told us two new neighborhoods are being targeted. They’re near Marksheffel and Stetson Hills Blvd in the northeast part of the Springs and the other is near North Carefree and Oro Blanco. The first two neighborhoods that were being targeted were in the Wolf Ranch and Flying Horse subdivisions.
Police say crooks are after the brass backflow valves and connecting copper pipes for the metal so they could possibly sell it later.
They say it's becoming such a widespread problem, every officer who works in those neighborhoods is being told about the crime when they start their shifts.
Alfonso Chavarria’s home was one of 15 hit recently. This morning he noticed his brass backflow valve and copper pipes had been stolen from his sprinkler system. His neighbor was the first to notice.
"I was like, 'Oh my gosh, how could this happen to me?'" Chavarria said.
Police said 15 homes on Chavarria’s street, Whip Trail, had backflow valves stolen and were reported Sunday. A couple weeks ago 11 News reported this crime was happening in the Wolf Ranch area where 60 homes had been hit.
"I was like, 'Who would've known that I would've gotten hit?' I heard about other people getting hit, this is a pretty quiet neighborhood, it's not really on a busy street and I wouldn't have thought it would happen to us," Chavarria said.
Chavarria said he's now going to talk to his neighbors about what they can do to prevent future crimes.
"I think what we should start doing is probably start up a neighborhood watch and so we can protect each other's homes so this won't happen again," Chavarria said.
Police don't have any suspect descriptions at this time, but did say if you see or hear anything suspicious going on in your neighborhood, call them right away. Police believe these thefts could be happening overnight.
Previous Coverage 12/30/13:
There's a rash of thefts in one neighborhood. Brass valves and copper pipes are being stolen from people's yards. It’s happening in the Wolf Ranch subdivision. That's near Research and Powers on the northeast side of Colorado Springs.
Police said at least 60 homes were hit in the past week and a half. It's the valves and pipes that are connected to sprinkler systems that are being stolen.
We talked to one man, Steve, who was on vacation with his family and came home to find his pipes gone.
"Came back we just checked around the house and my wife noticed right away that the pipes were missing," Steve said.
Police told us crooks locking in on the sprinkler brass backflow valves and copper pipes need just a few minutes to leave a homeowner with nothing.
"It was obviously something we didn't think would happen to us, but we were one of the people that were hit," Steve said.
On his block, near Ranch Creek Elementary School, three homes in a row were targeted. Everyone who lives in the subdivision is being alerted to these thefts from their homeowners association.
"Daily monitoring not only mine but my neighbor’s (valves). We thought we were safe being on a major road but evidently it's not," Sarah Scalise told us.
At this time there is no suspect or suspects in these thefts.
Police say keeping the valve and pipes out of sight with a fence or placing a homemade box around the connections making it more difficult to get to could act as a deterrent for crooks.
Police also tell us they are working with the HOA to make changes allowing for more protection of the exposed valves.