Police in Philadelphia are on the lookout for thieves who have a penchant for brass door knockers.
Over the past week and a half, over a dozen door knockers have been swiped from doors in the Society Hill neighborhood of the city.
While early media reports say 14 knockers were stolen off residents' doors, at least one media report says the count is now up to 16.
The neighborhood where the thefts are taking place is located in a historical area reported ABC News. Many of the brass items are historic and/or ornate, and the brass door knockers are valued in the range of one and five hundred dollars if purchased new.
Reportedly the thefts are quick ones and have even happenned in broad daylight when the neighborhood is active with people. Some thefts are reported to have occurred between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., while others were committed in the overnight hours.
NBC Philadelphia reported resident Sheila Brown said, “They’re doing it very quickly, in a matter of minutes they’re going up to doors and taking it. Ours is not an antique knocker but yes it is an old brass knocker.”
“That is what is very astonishing,” said Brown. “That’s a block with families coming and going. Broad daylight is very surprising.”
While a motive is not known, police believe the thieves are likely stealing them to melt them down for cash. “Scrap metal is at an all-time high, brass is pretty high right now so it’s a quick buck,” said Philadelphia Police Captain Brian Korn, reported media sources.
Local Philadelphia CBS News reported police are checking in with salvagers in the area to see if any brass is being brought in, but at this time, none are being reported.
Metal theft is on the rise in some areas of the U.S. A school in Oregon recently suffered $50,000 worth of flood damage after a thief stole a copper outdoor spigot, ripping the pipe.
The issue is prominent in the state of Missouri too. CBS reports one lawmaker in the state has proposed a bill to clamp down on thefts. In accordance with the bill, if passed, scrap sellers would have to take a check for sales over $50, no more cash deals. West Virginia is also considering the Scrap Metal Theft Prevention Act, reports West Virginia's MetroNews.
Kathleen Stephenson, a resident of one of the roads afflicted by the Philadelphia thefts, told CBS News if the thieves are melting down the brass and selling as scrap, they are likely getting less than their worth.
“If they were stealing them because they were beautiful, I could appreciate the fact they thought they were beautiful. But, if they’re stealing a beautiful knocker just to melt it down, it’s annoying," said Stephenson.
At this time local police are recommending residents remove their brass knockers for the time being.