Matt Smith, a 32-year-old salt water transporter for an oil company, lives with his wife and three children in a house on Florea St. in Graham. Smith has a neighbor who lives behind him on Old Jacksboro. He doesn't name his neighbor, but he has known him for several years, and says that he and a few other occupants in the house behind his “scrap” for a living.

This basically means that his neighbor scavenges for scrap copper and metal to sell to scrap yards or other parties who buy it for a small amount of money.

“There's definitely nonstop activity back there,” Smith says of the house behind him. “I know that they scrap. I know that's what they do for a living. I'm sure a lot of it has to do with copper.”

Both Smith and his wife say that they've caught their neighbors with stolen scrap metal that was eventually confiscated by the police.

“They took possession of all the copper in their yard,” Smith said of a recent police visit to the house. “But I guess they weren't able to arrest any of them. I figure they didn't have evidence to show where it was stolen from, but they knew it was stolen.”

Larry Williams, owner of Faith Builders in Graham, said that he is remodeling his aunt's house on Summit Street in the same neighborhood as Smith, and it has been broken into twice in the last two months and stripped of copper wire.

“They came in here and ripped all the wire out,” Williams said. “And then we had to come back in here and rewire it all over again.”

Williams estimated that for around $20 in scrap copper, the thieves did $2,500 in damage to his aunt's house. Both Smith and Williams are sick and tired of illegal scrappers such as Smith's backyard neighbor, the same man that Herb Cohen has complained about numerous times. Cohen, a licensed real estate broker, says that he owns and has been renovating the house next to Smith's backyard neighbor, and it has been broken into and stripped of copper wiring three times.

Because of Smith's long hours out in the oil fields, he says that he is always worried about his wife and children when he works. Even when he's home, he often wakes up in the middle of the night and feels the urge to stand watch over his street from his house.

“Last night at 1:30 a.m., I saw four people just walking around,” he related. “It's just non-stop. They're looking into cars, yards, houses, anything. Anything they can find sitting outside.”

Smith explained that there are many people roaming his neighborhood late at night looking to steal anything to make a quick buck. One night, someone even stole his eight-year-old son's shoes from his front porch. Smith said that most of the people stealing in his neighborhood are drug addicts, more specifically, meth addicts.

Read the entire story in this Wednesday's edition of the Graham Leader.