Stealing History: Wrought Iron Thefts Plague Historic Olde Towne East

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UPDATED: Thursday August 21, 2014 10:22 PM

In other parts of Columbus, stealing a wrought iron fence would be just another case of scrap metal theft.  But in the historic neighborhood of Old Towne East, you could call it a crime of the century.

A neighborhood sign says historic, but it's the homes on Bryden Road that prove it.

“We have incredible architecture here,” says resident Larissa Boiwka.   She points to a house that was built by the man who owned the Columbus Buggy Works.    She calls the area a jewelry box of history, but says thieves are now picking it over.  "This summer has been particularly bad for theft of scrap metal.”

John Mohr says he watched the latest theft as it happened.  He witnessed thieves loading up a wrought iron fence that was connected to the former Columbus School for Girls.   “To me it was very obvious that they were stealing it,” Mohr recalls.    The building and had been in the neighborhood since the turn of the century.

"These darn thieves are going to distract from the historic-ness of our street with such things as this,” adds Mohr.  His wife, Sandy, agrees.  She says when historic items are stolen, they can never be replaced.

Boiwka calls the thefts emblematic of what is going on in the area.   “Bit by bit, scavengers are chipping away at the historic nature of our neighborhood.”  She says she's called police five times this year to report similar thefts. She even snapped a photo of a woman loading up a shopping cart with metal that was stolen from a nearby home.

Her frustration is only increasing because she says no one is preventing the thieves from stealing the wrought iron.

However, Columbus police say there's no pattern of metal thefts they can identify, but they encourage neighbors to report anything that looks suspicious.

Boiwka can only hope that it is enough.  “It's a crime against our culture and we won't have anything left if we don't do something soon.”

Columbus Police are asking the public to report anyone they say is pushing around grocery carts loaded with any kind of metal.

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