OAK PARK, Ill. (STMW) — Police arrested a Chicago man Sunday for allegedly stealing copper downspouts from Oak Park homes, including one built by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Tyree Gregory, 56, of the 1100 block of South Homan Avenue, was charged with two counts of felony theft. He also is being held on arrest warrants from Will and DuPage counties.
Police said a witness identified Gregory as the man who allegedly removed a section of copper downspout from a Wright landmark home in the 300 block of Forest Avenue at 7:55 a.m. Sunday. Gregory then walked away southbound.
Another witness reported seeing the thief get into a car. The witness reported the license plate number to police.
“We had some witnesses who were able to assist us,” Oak Park Detective Cmdr. Ladon Reynolds said Tuesday.
Gregory was also charged in an earlier theft of copper downspout on the 200 block of South Ridgeland Avenue in Oak Park.
Reynolds said copper theft has been an ongoing trend recently, both copper downspout and copper condenser coils from exterior central air conditioning units.
Five yard air-conditioning units have been damaged in copper thefts or attempted thefts, with repair costs running as high as $3,000.
Reynolds said investigators are working with police in neighboring municipalities that have seen at least 20 such incidents.
He said a suspect described as a gray-haired white male, in his 50s, 5-foot-7, medium build and wearing a light-colored jacket and gray sweat pants was seen stealing copper condenser coil from an exterior air conditioning unit on the 1100 block of Lyman Avenue in Oak Park between 9 a.m. and 9:15 a.m. April 16.
In two other cases in that same neighborhood, the top and side panels of an air-conditioning unit on the 1100 block of South Humphrey Avenue in Oak Park were removed and copper tubing damaged between April 10 and April 17, in an attempt to steal the copper. Damage was estimated at $2,500.
The covers of two exterior air-conditioning units in a yard on the 1000 block of South Lyman Avenue in Oak Park were removed between 1:00 and 9:30 a.m. April 16, during another theft attempt.
© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2011. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed