CLERMONT, Fla. - Clermont police are putting out a warning to homeowners about a rash of copper thefts that can leave homes vulnerable.
Thieves have hit more than 30 homes in the Heritage Hills 55+ subdivision near Hancock Road, Clermont police said.
In some cases, homeowners didn't know they had been hit and that their homes were at risk.
Gerald Muir was one of those victims.
"A fellow I knew came by and said he had heard about a problem, we walked around my house and copper had been stolen too," Muir said.
Electricians said the small 3-foot ground wire is important to protect homes during a power surge or a lightning strike.
"The lightning is looking for ground, and if that ground (wire) is missing, it's going to go in the house and find major appliances," Bill Harper of B&B electrical services said.
Cops say the thieves were smart and may have been able to blend in with construction crews working in the community.
"(They) definitely are aware of what they can and can't take away, what they can cut (that's) not going to cause them a problem with electricity or electrocute them," Lt. Michael McMaster of Clermont
Muir said the thefts are surprising.
"That's an awfully small piece of copper, it's hardly worth the effort to do it," Muir said.
Investigators said the thieves will only get a few bucks if they scrap the stolen copper, but it will cost
homeowners like Muir more than $100 to replace it.
That's money Muir said he wishes he could have kept in his pocket.
"We're on a fixed income," Muir said.
With the thieves still out on the streets, police are warning people to make sure they keep an eye on their ground wires.
They said it's something people might not miss until it's too late.