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DanHolohanDanHolohan Posts: 14,866Member, Moderator, Administrator
When I worked for the rep, someone broke into our warehouse over the weekend and stole 240 Bell & Gossett Series 100 pumps, which did not come with the flanges. A week later, a wholesaler called to place an order for 240 sets of Series 100 flanges. We asked if he needed the pumps to go with the flanges and he said, "No, I'm all set."

It's funny how stuff like that stays with you.

Got any good stories about thieves?
Retired and loving it.


  • Danny ScullyDanny Scully Posts: 1,220Member
    Did you follow that lead @DanHolohan?
  • Living and working in Oakland, being ripped off was no longer a surprise. My Ridgid 300 threader disappeared off my truck when I left it alone for 5 minutes. I caught one guy in front of my shop at 3am prying open one of the cabinets on my truck. I caught another guy in front of my house trying to break the side window of my cab.

    Every time it happens, it hurts and I tell myself that I'd kill the guy if I ever caught him, but I know I won't. I might flip him the bird, though.

    Often wrong, never in doubt.

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  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Posts: 14,866Member, Moderator, Administrator
    Our salesman did. He pulled the inventory out of the wholesaler's store. All of it. Those were different times, Danny.
    Retired and loving it.
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Posts: 14,866Member, Moderator, Administrator
    My big brother lives in Oakland. He has some delicious stories.
    Retired and loving it.
  • RayWohlfarthRayWohlfarth Posts: 784Member
    We were working in a housing authority in a rough section of town. The maintenance staff warned us to be careful with our tools because of all the tools stolen recently. While we were there, a cement finisher was working on a sidewalk. One of the teens stole his finishing tool and the guy jumped up and chased the kid. Off course he could not catch the kid When he returned, the other teens cleaned out his truck. It was sad.
    Next day, we were eating lunch outside and saw a young man walking down the sidewalk with a hammer drill case that looked just like ours. I ran around back and saw my van had a broken back window and the door was ajar. We got off lucky. He stole a used hammer drill. Could not wait to finish that project
    Ray Wohlfarth
    Boiler Lessons
    Click here to take Ray's class.
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  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 11,885Member
    My sister lives in Oakland. Sorry... I don't even want to visit
    Br. Jamie, osb

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • My sister lives in Oakland. Sorry... I don't even want to visit

    Is your sister married to Dan's brother? Small world.
    Often wrong, never in doubt.

    Click here to learn more about this contractor.
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Posts: 14,866Member, Moderator, Administrator
    But my brother's rent-controlled building has steam heat, which he really likes. He tells people about me. They look at him like he's an idiot.

    However, I did get to use Lake Merritt in my book, Dominic Murphy's Walk, so there's that. ;)
    Retired and loving it.
  • LeonardLeonard Posts: 840Member
    edited May 2019
    Have a restaurant building that was vacant for few years. Had homeless alcoholic bums cut all pairs of 4 ft copper pipe from outside condenser units flush with building wall, inside were 4 walk-in coolers. They do that to buy a quart of cheap beer :'(


    Separately while building was vacant, I saw a car parked in back. I swung around and investigated. Found a guy picking aluminum sheet metal from make do fence in back of building, in the poison ivy. He had just about finished getting it all.

    Made him open his car and trunk. Found a lot of my aluminum folded up for transport. I made him fully empty his car, took his drivers license info and told him to NEVER set foot on the property again or he would be instantly arrested.

    Made me furious when he tried to justify his theft by saying building was vacant for few years so NO ONE OWNS IT. Told him WE DO!!!!!!! Didn't tell him about the poison ivy, figured that would teach the bum a lesson.

    Went home got some cardboard to line my trunk, and some plastic gloves. Loaded it all into my car and sold it at scrap yard.

    I had been wanting to sell it before, but didn't want to walk thru the lush POISON IVY. :)

    Another time got a call from neighbor some bums were loading scrap steel from behind same building. I call police and went there. They had almost filled their truck. I told police to make them unload then I "no-trespassed " them. (Police record their info and tell them if they EVER set foot on the property for ANY reason in future they will be instantly arrested, then police release them). I then took the steel and sold it at scrap yard.

    Again I didn't mention poison ivy to the bums. After they left I told police how to de-contaminate their pants , socks, and shoes.
  • Steve MinnichSteve Minnich Posts: 2,491Member
    Worked my whole career in the Chicago metropolitan area. I've had my truck broken into and emptied 4 times, all in the suburbs.
    PHC News Columnist
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
  • Keith MKeith M Posts: 78Member
    Years ago I while visiting the head engineer for a large city's housing authority, he told me they purchased around 20,000 feet of baseboard each year to replace baseboard stolen for it's copper.
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Posts: 14,866Member, Moderator, Administrator
    I have a feeling I know which city that is @Keith M
    Retired and loving it.
  • RoohollahRoohollah Posts: 109Member
    The same situation in here . We had a project out of the capital . It was sort of far flung place . Its owner was our regular client for years . While we were working there I told the owner about security for the tools and Uponor products which were so expensive . But ,project manager gave his word for any missing things there. We were using an Italian welding machine which was kind of heavy to carry up and down . My younger brother used to nag about the machine always. It was at week end and we finished our work and took all the staff to the ground floor for the coming week to start again. The other day when we came there after changing our clothes we heard that workers talked about robbery and they guessed thieves stole somethings from plumbing crew . We headed to check up the staff and saw that the lovely welding machine and its cables were stolen . I phoned to the owner and reported the robbery . He generously offered me to buy whatever welding machine I desired and he compensated whatever I lost . We bought another DC welding machine but light one to carry out and my younger brother still thanks the thieves for stealing that cumbersome machine and appreciates the owner for letting us experience modern and brand new tool .


  • Erin Holohan HaskellErin Holohan Haskell Posts: 1,194Member, Moderator, Administrator
    This thread reminds me of when New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development asked @DanHolohan to consult on installing brand new one-pipe, steam-heating systems in city housing in the 1980s.

    "But the most important reason that they chose to go with steam heat (and you can’t make this stuff up) is that, with steam, there’s nothing worth stealing from the job site. This is not true with hot water heat. Hot water systems have copper pipes and copper fittings and copper radiators and brass valves and these metals make scrap dealers drool."

    "Steam pipes, on the other hand, are made of steel, and the heating units in the apartments are also made of steel, and steel is not worth toting out of the building. The scrap dealer would just laugh at you. Make sense? It did to them! At the time, the City’s Project Development Coordinator said, 'A contractor can look at a truckload of copper tubing and see a truckload of copper tubing, but to a drug addict, that truck looks like a jewelry store.' He went on to speak from personal experience about this. 'When we tried a hot water heating system in one of these buildings,' he told me, 'the only way we could keep the copper in the building beyond the first day was to paint it black as soon as it arrived on the job site. Once it was black, the locals thought it was steel and left it alone. If it looked like copper, it didn’t make it through the night.'"
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Posts: 14,866Member, Moderator, Administrator
    Yes, Erin, that's one I'll long remember.
    Retired and loving it.
  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Posts: 3,688Member
    edited May 2019
    Two boring stories.
    Nothing so expensive, but annoying, to me.
    Someone (meth head?) cut a 5 foot tall opening in my chain link fence gate at my shop, and only stole the plastic hub caps off of my Ford van. What bothered me the most was the cost to fix the fence was way more than the hubcaps. They could've just crawled under.

    Way back when I was in construction in the late 80's in West Philadelphia, we were installing a handicap ramp to a CLA house (community living arrangement house for the mentally handicapped). Real rough neighborhood.
    I set my screw guns down (old black and decker, and original Makita). Didn't see anyone even near the place in a 200' radius. Stepped inside to grab my water jug. 3 minutes tops, I come back out and they're gone.
    I see a woman by the fence and she says "Someone stole you s**t". I walk over and she tells me a guy jumped the fence and stole your tools. When he was running across the street a cop was riding by. He must have seen the black & decker screw gun in his hand, thought it was a real gun and chased him around the corner.
    The guy threw the tools in the bush across the street. I went over there to get them, and a couple of guys come out of that house and ask me what I'm looking for? I told them. The one guy said he didn't see them, but he has 2 just like them in his house for sale if I wanted to buy them. I said, "No you keep them, they're worthless without the chargers". Out numbered I left. Luckily the company replaced them.
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Posts: 14,866Member, Moderator, Administrator
    @STEVEusaPA, it's amazing all of that happened in that amount of time. Gosh.
    Retired and loving it.
  • SlamDunkSlamDunk Posts: 692Member
    edited May 2019
    I had an older friend, born and raised in Tennessee, who was in the coast guard, helicopter rescue, based in Brooklyn during the early 70's.

    He said he befriended a local who hung outside the base who promised he get him anything he wanted. My friend needed to replace a 350 engine in his Cutlass and asked him what he could do....
    My friend told me the guy returned with a 350 engine two hours later and it was still hot!
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Posts: 14,866Member, Moderator, Administrator
    Retired and loving it.
  • EzzyTEzzyT Posts: 933Member
    So about 20 years ago when I was an apprentice and my job was to just cut and thread all the piping. We where doing a 50+ unit building in down town Brooklyn and they had a 24/7 security company on site. The entire building was completely roughed plumbed with cast iron no hub, copper for domestic water and heat, steel for the sprinkler system all the cast iron tubs and tub roughing valves where in too. I can’t remember how many months the job took from start to finish but I remember we where done on a Friday and ready for inspections. We also had about 20k of tools locked up in job boxes.
    The following Monday we where scheduled to move out all the tools to the next job.
    When we walked into the building that Monday every piece of piping, fittings hangers and bathtubs where all gone and plus they torched the locks off of the job boxes and took all the tools.
    After an investigation was done one of the security people was in on the scrap stealing.
    When we had to re-rough the entire building it was a breeze since I wrote down every measurement of pipe that was cut.
    Creative Solutions Plumbing & Heating LLC
    Lic #12683
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  • nibsnibs Posts: 383Member
    Not Mechanical but................
    1981 sailing south down the Baja, pulled into Magdalena bay. Wanted to go ashore and visit the shipwrecks on the other side of the isthmus, beached our dingies in some mangroves near a fishing village. Walked over to the wrecks, came back and the dingies were still there, but outboards, paddles, life jackets were all gone.
    Walked into the village, shouting that if our stuff was not returned were were not leaving, and would radio for the Federales.
    The whole village turned out and I continued my ranting, a young guy found a paddle and told us we could get out to our yacht now, more ranting, and gradually the same three kids found all of our stuff hidden in the mangroves close by.
    Our mistake was hiding our dingies, had we left them on the beach at the village, no one would have gone near them.
    Takes time to learn other cultures.
  • Leon82Leon82 Posts: 652Member
    It's only going to get worse. There is basically no punishment for it, Unless they steal from a relative of the prosecutor
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 6,441Member
    In my state of NE, if I sell copper scrap electrical wire to a proper yard, my driver license is copied, I am on security cameras constantly, my thumb print is taken and the check is mailed to me to assure that the driver license address is correct and they know where I live. This mailing out the check is for electrical wire only.
    When in the weigh up room I look in the bins and see maybe a 50'+ roll of new wire of maybe #6 or larger copper....who would throw that into their scrap pile? probably walked off the job site.

    Now for plumbing/ACR scrap, I could haul in 20' lengths of new copper and receive the check on the spot. However all the other ID info is recorded. If someone reported 20' bundles of copper pipe stolen, perhaps police might get an idea of who took it. But without absolute ownership of perhaps serial number or shipping labels proof is thin.

    One son works for the major utility in the state, he said occasionally the transmission pole grounds are cut off at the ground and up about 8', this is #4 bare stranded.
    They have tried painted with orange colors but if you burn it off then there goes that evidence.
    Some meth heads have ventured into substations to steal ground wires also.....sometimes they are still there on the ground the next morning....cut the wrong wire!!
  • Steve MinnichSteve Minnich Posts: 2,491Member
    When I was 9 years old, I stole a Mounds candy bar at the local drug store. I felt so guilty I did 180 as soon as I got outside the store, told the cashier what I did she told me to keep the it. That crime paid.
    PHC News Columnist
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,508Member
    JUGHNE said:

    Some meth heads have ventured into substations to steal ground wires also.....sometimes they are still there on the ground the next morning....cut the wrong wire!!

    You can't fix stupid...... >:)
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,339Member
    @Steamhead I worked for BGE for about 7 years. At one time they had someone break in, try and steal copper, get fried, and then the survivors tried to bring a wrongful death suit against the company. Thankfully they lost.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
  • mikeg2015mikeg2015 Posts: 1,080Member
    At a large industrial corn refinery they were laying copper grounding grid for a coal fired steam cogen plant. They had I think $60k worth of copper stolen over a holiday weekend. Had ot post 24/7 guards after that for a couple weeks until concrete was poured.

    Now that was a cool steam project. Had I think a 24” steam main 150# AFTER the pressure reducing valve. Steam turbine made I think 20MW. Not big by utility standards, but still pretty cool. Also had a Natural gas combined cycle cogen plant there as well. Gas turbine makes steam off a HRSG and duct burners can supplement it as well. Superheated steam goes ot steam turbine then “waste” steam is fed to the plant at 150#.

    Original system in 1901 also had dynamo’s fed from a bank of a dozen smaller coal boilers. Teddy Roosevelt cut the ribbon on the re-opening of the plant after a fire in 1900.

    Unfortunately, the town peaked somewhat in 1913 after the river dam and power plant was completed. Just didn’t adapt as the industry modernized and failed to capitalize on the post war booms of hte 20’s and 50’s.

    Off topic, but steam and history are cool in all forms.
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Posts: 14,866Member, Moderator, Administrator
    "Off topic, but steam and history are cool in all forms."

    Amen! Thanks for sharing.
    Retired and loving it.
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 6,441Member
    Steamhead, in reference to the above postings concerning copper thieves inside of sub stations, it goes to show that sometimes.…... "You CAN fix stupid" ;)
  • Intplm.Intplm. Posts: 1,034Member
    A theft was investigated at a company I worked for. It was found that many were stealing material for jobs. The many
    blamed the one that did not partake. The one that did not partake was harassed, ridiculed and singled out by the many and was finally dismissed from there job as the suspected thief.
    It was later found that the many did do all the dirty deeds.
    The one that did not partake was vindicated but was never found to be told the findings.
  • neilcneilc Posts: 756Member
    edited May 2019
    Steamhead said:

    JUGHNE said:

    Some meth heads have ventured into substations to steal ground wires also.....sometimes they are still there on the ground the next morning....cut the wrong wire!!

    You can't fix stupid...... >:)
    this does fix stupid

    I gotta finish reading threads before I post, , ,
  • ZmanZman Posts: 5,472Member
    I worked for an old timer in the '80's that occasionally did work in the city. He would buy the neighborhood kids ice cream so that they would keep an eye on his tools. He never had anything stolen.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • STEVEusaPASTEVEusaPA Posts: 3,688Member
    Yeah you can't be a guy with a van who buys kids ice cream in this day and age..
    Better to have someone literally ride shotgun. I'm done in the city, but others either do that, or have the helper drop you off and keep circling the block (no parking anywhere), dropping off parts and tools on each pass.
  • Jean-David BeyerJean-David Beyer Posts: 2,649Member
    It is not just copper from heating systems that get stolen. I used to hang out with a bunch of steam locomotive enthusiasts at a local railroad museum. They often dealt with a reputable honest recycling center. One time, the recycling guy aid some people showed up and wanted to sell him a lot of railroad rail. He demanded to see their title to those rails. I mean, who has railroad rail (like 120 pounds per yard of steel) that does not actually run a railroad. And that stuff is heavy. A standard 39 foot piece of that weighs over half a ton. And whatever railroad they stole it from might miss it.

    He called the police on them.
  • Solid_Fuel_ManSolid_Fuel_Man Posts: 1,842Member
    This thread is certainly a good read, but sad at the same time....

    All I've ever had stolen was my 4' fiberglass ladder out of the back of a rusty Ford Ranger while I was in night class for a code update.....

    A few months after I got married our place of reception had the entire heating system worth of copper stolen. It was a remote(ish) event hall which they apparently left vacant for periods of time. People rode in on 4 wheelers and stole the pipe. They used to pay cash, no questions asked, for scrap back then.

    P.S. why not use black iron pipe on hot water to deter the copperheads? Would it be any more labor than 1 pipe steam? Due to smaller diameters?
    Serving Northern Maine HVAC, and Controls
  • HVACNUTHVACNUT Posts: 2,766Member
    About 10 years ago there was a flurry here of stolen copper from the 6" PVC pipe tubes on the van's ladder racks. Picked clean right from the Techs homes. The boss had the tubes removed on all the vans.
    I never had a problem at my home, probably because I've got 2 bright LED floods on a photocell lighting up my driveway and front yard and I ALWAYS back in with the van.
    And of course I have my guard dog.
    P.S. I had the cesspools moved from the backyard to the front last spring. The lawn is nice now so don't mock.
  • HydroNiCKHydroNiCK Posts: 92Member
    edited May 2019
    I can top all these expansiveness and magnitude. Thieves around every corner..a pilferers paradise. As many of you might have guessed by now..I work for State govt.
    Civil service supply rooms are like the Bermuda Triangle.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Posts: 13,508Member
    KC_Jones said:

    @Steamhead I worked for BGE for about 7 years. At one time they had someone break in, try and steal copper, get fried, and then the survivors tried to bring a wrongful death suit against the company. Thankfully they lost.

    You can't fix stupid...... >:)
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • JUGHNEJUGHNE Posts: 6,441Member
    Steamhead, as stated above, sometimes you can "Fix Stupid"...
    it is the Darwin Award winners who fix themselves.
  • Steve MinnichSteve Minnich Posts: 2,491Member
    I just remembered an incident where my brother and I were replacing a heat exchanger on a rooftop in downtown Chicago. It was about an 8 story building and we were doing it on a Sunday. An hour or so into tearing the RTU apart, we heard the sound of busting glass. We looked over the edge of the roof and there's two guys busting out my brother's van windows and emptying his truck.

    We start yelling at them, they look up a us like they didn't have a care in the world, and they flip us off. By the time we took the freight elevator down they were long gone .
    PHC News Columnist
    Minnich Hydronic Consulting & Design, LLC
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