Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sometimes it is hard being in the city

The neighborhood around St. John's has improved immessurably in the past 1o years. With the new housing, the new stadiums, and the Fox Theatre being so busy, we have increased police presence and as well as the security from the Olympia Security and Parking staff. On Sunday Mornings there is probably no safer place in the City of Detroit than the corner of Woodward and I-75

But the Church building has fallen victim to the lastest crime spree. The cooper downspouts (which were painted to look like lead/tin) were all stolen, from about 8 feet downward in the past 3 weeks. Copper thefts have become epidemic with the price of copper sky-rocketing from 75 cents a pound to over $4 a pound at one point. Theives are striping utility poles of wires, and stripping the copper wire out of air-conditioning units. The old Mounted Unit barn at Bethune, between Woodward and John R was broken into and plumbing and wires stripped from the building.

City Council and the State legislators are moving on legislation to cut the 'urban miners' off at the supply...making it tougher to sell to scrap dealers, and making them accountable for the source.

Today in the Detroit News we hear of a large bust at a house full of scrap thieves, with officers and the commander from my own Central District featured prominently in the article!
Chaulk one up for the good guys!
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DETROIT -- As city and state lawmakers push for measures to crack down on copper theft, Detroit police on Tuesday raided an abandoned house on East Bethune where nine squatters were stockpiling metal stolen from nearby buildings.
The seven men and two women were found in the filthy, debris-strewn three-story house watching television sets powered by stolen electricity tapped from DTE lines. Police also discovered a man in an upstairs bedroom injecting drugs.
"He said he was from Bloomfield and he asked if we could allow him to finish getting his fix," said Commander Frederick McClure.
McClure said a neighbor tipped police to the activity in the house. Churches, homes and a vacant police precinct have been hit by thieves as copper prices soar.
The squatters will face charges ranging from entering a home without permission to receiving and concealing stolen property. On Tuesday, state Sen. Buzz Thomas, D-Detroit, introduced a bill to increase penalties for copper theft. The Detroit City Council will vote today on an ordinance to crack down on metal theft, including the licensure of junk collectors .
Junk dealers and scrap yards would also have to keep detailed records of whom they are buying metal from and keep video surveillance of transactions.
A hearing Tuesday attracted a dozen scrap collectors who said increased regulations and fees would drive them out of business. "It's too much," said 66-year-old Joe Antolak. "They need to get more police out there." But Councilwoman JoAnn Watson said the regulations are needed. "Something has to be done," Watson said. "Citizens are demanding it."