Copper theft crackdown: ‘Tattletale’ tells on thieves

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio-- Thieves stealing copper from vacant houses has been a growing problem in Northeast Ohio.

Now, a local police department is rolling out technology that can alert officers as soon as the would-be thief steps inside.

They are using a device called 'Tattletale.' It's a portable alarm system with motion sensors.

"When there's an entry, an unauthorized entry and it's triggered, our police department's notified and the officers are notified also by text message," said Cleveland Heights Police Chief Jeffrey Robertson.

Chief Robertson does not want to reveal how many devices they have. He said they are in unoccupied vacant houses; most of them are up for sale. The chief said the department purchased them mainly to stop copper thieves.

"We've got 'em north, south, east and west, right now, and they're activated," said the chief.

In late April, 'Tattletale' helped nab a man who had broken into a home on Euclid Heights Boulevard. Officers arrested Paul Cook, 49, who was charged with, among other things, burglary, breaking and entering, and tampering with evidence.

"Had that alarm not been in there, he'd still be in the house. He was going in there to take possession of the house. I guess you would say similar to what a squatter would be, but this was a rather large house in the city," said Robertson.

The devices are not cheap. They cost up to $2500 each. But the chief and many residents said it is worth the cost to keep the community safer.

"I think it's a great idea. I know copper pipes being stolen out of houses has been a problem in our area, so I'd like to see this system in effect. It makes me feel good," said Cleveland Heights resident, Kathie Brown.

"I do feel safe living in Cleveland Heights and with that device, it definitely makes me feel safer," said Cleveland Heights resident, Amanda Smith.

"I think if criminals know the system's in place, it may be a deterrent to even trying it," Brown said.