Metal thieves target National Packard Museum - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Metal thieves target National Packard Museum

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WARREN, Ohio -

Metal thieves leave behind damage and expensive repairs at the National Packard Museum in Warren in one of several similar incidents across the city over the weekend.

A fire alarm at 4:53 a.m. on Sunday was the first sign something was wrong.

The museum's executive director traced the problem to sensors in the duct work, then went to check the building's heating systems outside.

"I came out here, I came around the corner and I saw all this debris," Mary Ann Porinchak said.

The heating and cooling systems were completely dismantled, copper pipes were cut and a portion of the wood panel fence surrounding the back of the building was turned into a door for the suspects to enter the area. 

"We were totally shocked and appalled, that's an attack on Warren," Porinchak said. "In my opinion, this place belongs to the people, it belongs to the collectors."

Porinchak believes it was the work of more than one person, who damaged two of the units Friday night, before returning the next night to finish the job by removing copper and a compressor from a third unit. 

She was surprised no one saw the individuals when the museum hosted a large group for a mixer Saturday night.

Porinchak says the fence was repaired Saturday morning and she had taken steps with the alarm company to secure the third unit, but those steps didn't stop the thieves from coming back to get what they wanted.

She believes that the suspects initially entered the area by climbing up the meter and jumping over the fence. She says fresh footprints were noticed in the frosted grass nearby over the weekend. 

It's estimated the damage to the units is at least $26,000, depending on the price of copper.

The museum wasn't the only place targeted by metal thieves. 

This historical home at 801 Mahoning Avenue joins another house on North Park and a business that were also stripped of precious metals.

Warren police say they've noticed copper metal thefts from AC units more often this year than in years past.

Ohio leads in the top five states for metal thefts, with New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Illinois trailing behind.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau reports the number of metal theft claims are down from 2014 to 2016 by 60-percent.

Warren police say they're actively investigating the thefts and say they need the public to come forward with any potential information that could lead them to the suspects.

While the museum has plenty of damage to repair outside, inside the vehicles and artifacts on display remain safe.

"We're still able to maintain a constant environmental temperature inside the museum, we're still able to keep the relative humidity where it needs to be," Polinchak said.

The next steps include fixing the units, installing fencing around them and new cameras to keep an eye on the area.

"We are going to make widespread changes here, this will not happen again," Polinchak said.

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