Thief Burns Neighborhood After Fire Dies Out

By: Lena Tillet4 Email
By: Lena Tillet4 Email

It didn’t take long for a second blow to land in a metro neighborhood. First came the fire and then came the thief.

Russel Rawson was arrested after trying to steal copper from the burned down Keystone Pharmacy.

The fire gutted the building at 73rnd and Maple. That alone was enough to make neighbors uneasy but now they’re even more concerned after the theft.

Neighbor Brandi Smith said, "Driving by it every day, you don't want that in the neighborhood that you live in."

From her apartment window, Brandi saw the old Keystone Pharmacy burn to the ground. At one time, a community asset, now, she and her neighbors’ fears are coming true. The remains are attracting thieves to the neighborhood

“That was my first thought, I hope nothing's really left of value in there that someone's going to come and rummage through," she said.

Theft Suspect

Friday morning, a man tried. Police say they spotted Russell Rawson inside the burned building trying to steal copper. He took off but police caught him moments later. He's now charged with burglary and obstruction.

For employees at neighboring business Auto Value, the thief hit too close to home. Four weeks ago they also fell victim to copper theft.

Auto Value employee Justin Dryden said, “The potential for them to just look this way at a business that is still standing is there and we're afraid of that."

Auto Value employees and neighbors we talked to say they had hoped the owners would put some type of security in place to prevent people from hopping the fence and rummaging through the debris."

The owners declined to comment on the future of the property or when it will be cleaned up but their neighbors hope it will be soon.

Neighbors say they know the fire just happened so they want to give the owners time to clean up but they just want a little more security so thieves don't consider the area open to rummage through.

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