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Editorial: Vehicle batteries becoming popular target for thieves

May. 24, 2013 @ 11:18 PM

Prescription drugs, utility cables, air conditioners, water pipes. Those are among the popular targets of thieves in the Tri-State. It appears you can now add vehicle batteries to the list.

That was driven home this month when 14 batteries were stolen from Ironton school buses. Ironton Police Chief Dan Johnson told The Herald-Dispatch that the incident was consistent with a recent series of battery thefts throughout Ironton. He estimated 35 to 50 vehicle batteries have been taken in the past three months.

A spike in battery thefts also has been reported in many other cities across the country in recent months.

Like so many thefts, the cost to the victim is greater than the benefit realized by the thief. Johnson estimated that the thief could get between $12 and $20 each for batteries, which is nowhere near the cost of buying a replacement. The Ironton school district spent $2,200 to replace the stolen batteries. The thieves also do collateral damage, such as cutting the cables connected to the batteries, adding even more costs for the victims.

Elsewhere in the country, thieves have targeted a wide range of vehicles: cars, campers, trucks in industrial fleets and farm equipment. Older vehicles are often a prime target because the latches for opening the hoods often are not inside the vehicle.

Police suggest a couple of steps to counter this unwelcome trend, or at least slow down the thieves. One is better securing the battery, either with a store-bought battery lock or bicycle chain. Marking the battery with some sort of personal identification number -- a birthday or a phone number -- also could help in recovery of the battery.

Beyond that, if people have any information about possible stolen batteries, they should contact police.

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