Suspects elusive in copper theft string

LAWRENCEVILLE - Copper thieves, blanketed by night, have been slipping into Gwinnett County parks and gutting light fixtures for the valuable material since last summer.

Gwinnett police on Friday asked for the public's help in catching them.

Since last August, eight parks - from Norcross to Dacula, and several points in between - have been raided for copper, which thieves have hocked to scrap yards and vendors as demand for the material has steadily increased.

Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. David Schiralli said, for the most part, targeted parks have athletic fields with extensive lighting systems. The latest theft occurred Christmas Eve at Duncan Creek Park in Dacula, he said.

Police in affected areas have upped patrols of the parks after dark, Schiralli said.

"Because there's no discernible pattern to the thefts," he said, "it's very difficult to determine when or where the next incident will occur."

A dollar amount for the stolen materials was not available.

Police encourage anyone with knowledge of the thefts to call investigators at 770-513-5300.