Police along the Jersey Shore say dozens of homes damaged by Sandy are now being victimized again by bandits stealing copper pipes.
Police in the hard-hit Beach Haven West community in the Manahawkin section of Stafford Township have reports of 32 thefts of copper from homes, many of them still vacant as owners rebuild. And authorities believe there are many more.
"I would anticipate at least double what we already know about," said Police Lt. Tom Dellane.
For homeowners trying to put their homes back together, it is one more frustration to deal with.
"Your house is destroyed and now you're gonna have someone come in and just add to the devastation," said Carol Wilkie, whose house was hit by copper thieves two weeks ago.
Like most people in the 4,600-home Beach Haven West community across Barnegat Bay from Long Beach Island, the Wilkies have only begun the rebuilding process and are not living there.
Stafford Mayor John Spodofora is trying to reinvigorate the neighborhood watch program.
But he concedes it is difficult.
"There are so few people there," Mayor Spodofora said. "The ones that are there are going to have to step up and help us try to catch these people."
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