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Rash Of Historic Door-Knocker Thefts Reported In Society Hill

By Jim Melwert

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - There's a rash of thefts in Philadelphia's Society Hill neighborhood, with police saying in the past couple weeks, over a dozen brass door knockers have been taken right off people's homes.

George Blood of the 300 block of Delancy Street says someone stole a solid brass knocker in the shape of a hand off his door. "Middle of the day, over the weekend, we went out, came home and realized it was gone."

Blood says it looks like whoever stole his, also hit other homes along his street. "There's been a rash of them, it's not just one or two, it's a lot. You can walk around the neighborhood and see them missing."

These are the ornate, often historic, decorative door knockers in the historic Society Hill section, but 6th District commanding officer Captain Brian Korn says, with the scrap metal market being so high, a thief or thieves, are walking right up to homes, and snatching the brass off the doors.

He says they've been checking with area salvagers, but so far nothing. "One theory is that whoever's taking these might be waiting to get quite a few en masse to have a heavy weight, rather than just bringing them in one or two at a time."

If the historic decorations are being sold as scrap metal, Kathleen Stephenson, who lives on the 500 block of Pine Street, says the thieves are probably getting much less than they're worth. "If they were stealing them because they were beautiful, I could appreciate the fact they thought they were beautiful. But, if they're stealing a beautiful knocker just to melt it down, it's annoying."

Captain Korn says the first report came in last Wednesday, but he had a feeling once they put word out, they'd learn of more.

He was right. In just a week and a half, 16 homes in the area reported such a theft, the most recent happened Friday evening.

He says sometimes it happens overnight, but in at least one case it happened early evening, and often without the use of any tools.

He's says there are additional officers assigned to the area, and is asking residents to be aware of any suspicious activity, and to call 911 if they see anything.

Blood offers this advice: "If I still had a knocker up, I would take it off and let this chapter pass."

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