March 19, 2012

Augusta homeowner returns to find furnace, oil tanks stolen

By Craig Crosby
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- Copper piping has been popular burglar fodder for a number of years, but a Gage Street property owner got a big surprise recently when she discovered someone had made off with her home's pipes and all the heating equipment to which it had been attached.

Lt. Christopher Massey of the Augusta police said the victim, who lives in Massachusetts, called police around 6 p.m. Thursday to report that the home she owns at 29 Gage St. had been stripped of its furnace and circulator, two oil tanks and copper pipes.

"They came home to check on the property and found that stuff was gone," Massey said.

The theft occurred sometime between November 2011, when the home was last rented, and Thursday, Massey said.

A preliminary incident report did not indicate how the equipment might have been removed from the house or how much oil the tanks held at the time of the theft. The report did not list an estimated value of the stolen items.

"I'm sure it's well over $5,000," Massey said.

While there have been reports of home heating oil being stolen from tanks in other parts of the state, this was the first instance of oil tank theft Massey could recall.

Augusta Police continue to investigate the December 2011 theft of eight large propane tanks from four businesses around the Children's Discovery Museum. Each of the 100-gallon propane tanks had been filled within the few weeks before their disappearance. Augusta Fuel Co. lost a few thousand dollars' worth of equipment in the thefts, and customers lost thousands of dollars' worth of fuel.

Massey said empty homes like the one on Gage Street frequently are targeted by burglars.

"We see a lot of vacant properties' copper being taken, but the actual furnace?" Massey said. "I have not seen that before."

Craig Crosby -- 621-5642

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