MADISON COUNTY, Ky. - Metal thieves are targeting popular shopping centers and endangering visitors' lives by stealing fire fighting equipment to sell for scrap.
Investigators tell us someone has stolen a total of nine brass fire department connectors from Richmond Centre, Richmond Mall, and Carriage Gate Shopping Center, as well as Lowes and Tractor Supply in Madison County.
The purpose of these connectors is to allow firefighters to hook up their hoses, increasing the water pressure used during fires.
"They're the hook-ups that when we get an alarm, if there is a fire, we will hook to boost the pressure to the sprinkler system," Assistant Fire Chief Wayne Long, of the Richmond Fire Department.
We talked to firefighters who told us that the missing connectors compromise the safety of shoppers.
"We do our best to protect everyone," said Asst. Chief Long. "This is something that hinders us from doing our job. And they're endangering people's lives and property."
The problem is that they don't know when the connectors were stolen.
It was discovered they were even missing during routine inspections starting on Wednesday.
"We're pretty sure they were stolen for scrap," Asst. Chief Long told us. "But the scrap yards ought to know these aren't common things to scrap. Until the scrap yards deal with the problem, we're still going to have problems."
The connectors are worth about five hundred dollars each. And the businesses are responsible for replacing them.
The fire department is working with the Richmond Police Department to hunt down the thieves.