Houses in storm-strewn sections of Stafford are under siege by looters, say police, and they're urging owners to take precautions.

Authorities say that exhausted residents who were driven out by damage and return for repairs only on weekends are increasingly finding that their property's been ransacked of copper tubing, appliances, and tools.

Police say the highest volume of reports is in Beach Haven West and Village Harbor. Acknowledging that thieves will try anything to break into an unattended house, they're offering some tips for protection:

  • Make every attempt to secure your home and crawl space entrance when you leave your property.
  • Communicate with neighbors and let them know no one other than contractors and paid  services are to be on the property.  If possible, tell your neighbors the contractor’s business name.
  • Record any license plates and description of any suspicious vehicles or people you encounter or observe.
  • If you see someone entering or exiting the rear of homes or from a crawl space carrying equipment or copper material, call police.

Anyone needing immediate response should call Stafford Police dispatchers at 609-597-8581. Reports on any crime information can be given confidentially and anonymously at their tip line, 609-597-1189 x8477 (TIPS).