City of Toledo offering reward for house-stripping thieves - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

City of Toledo offering reward for house-stripping thieves

TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -

The fight against blight continues in the city of Toledo and you can be rewarded for it.  Mayor D. Michael Collins announced an initiative Friday aimed at thieves who strip vacant homes.

Criminals will strip vacant homes of plumbing and other materials, but the city is aiming to put a stop to it. The crackdown includes a reward of $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of people who have stripped metal and other materials from a vacant house. 

"What it is going to do is going to take these people who feel that they had the liberty of going into homes and stripping them out," said Mayor Collins, "They probably will be much surprised: we're not only going to take them to court, we're going to take their car or truck."

When a home is stripped, it is nearly impossible to restore it, so it remains vacant, adding to the problem of blight in the city.

"House-stripping plagues the community and it's not just in the central city, it's everywhere," said Tom Kroma, Toledo's Neighborhoods Director. "People prey on an empty home and they ultimately drag the life out of the house."

Central Toledo resident Reed Russell recently became a victim of stripping.

"Someone broke into one of my houses and stole the electrical wiring - brand new wiring," he said.

Russell says this problem could be solved if scrap companies stop purchasing metal from stripped homes. 

City and police officials are encouraging residents to be on the lookout for these criminals, and say they may even be rewarded for their efforts.

The reward money will come from the non-profit organization Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing.  Toledo is the first city in Ohio trying out this program.

"This pool of money for this rewards program will not solve the problem," said Tony DiBlasi from Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing, "but we feel it's a step in the right direction."

If you spot someone stripping a vacant home in your neighborhood, you're asked to call 911 immediately.

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