BROCKTON, Massachusetts (Reuters) - Shards of broken glass outside the basement window of 31 Vine Street hint at the destruction inside the three-story home.
Thieves smashed the window to break in and then gutted the property for its copper pipes -- a crime that has spread across the United States as the economy slows and foreclosed homes stand empty and vulnerable.
"They cut it here and then pulled it right out of the wall," real estate broker Marc Charney said, pointing to broken plaster near a wrecked baseboard heating system in the 2,774-sq-ft home in Brockton, Massachusetts, a working-class city of 94,304 people.
In areas hit hardest by foreclosures, such as the Slavic Village neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio, copper and other metals used in plumbing, heating systems and telephone lines are now more valuable than some homes.
Some boarded-up homes in his Slavic Village community have "No copper, only PVC" painted on the boards to stop would-be thieves.
Some homes worth less than their copper pipes | U.S. | Reuters