Exclusive: NYC Thieves With A Taste For Wrought Iron Fences

As Those In Brooklyn Have Learned, If You Value Your Gates Beef Up Security

NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Fences are supposed to help protect your home, but now they’re being targeted by crooks.

CBS 2’s Emily Smith has the exclusive story on a new wave of crime involving some Brooklyn homeowners’ wrought iron fences.

They are a signature of many neighborhoods, most of them erected in the 1800s. So, residents along these tree-lined streets are outraged that someone has been stealing their wrought iron gates.

“We got back from a weekend away and we noticed they were gone,” Fort Greene resident Van Hanos said.

“It’s disturbing to find somebody has taken that from us,” Fort Greene’s Wayne Tripp added.

At least six gates have been stolen on Vanderbilt Avenue in Fort Greene over the past two weeks and another three within an eight-block radius, according to police. Tripp said his iron fence disappeared last week, calling it the most prized feature of his $2 million home.

“The gate was part of our property, part of the legacy of this block being historic,” Tripp said.

One homeowner has bars on his windows. He said he doesn’t take safety for granted but he never thought he’d need to protect his gate. In many cases they can be easily lifted.

“This one can be lifted and taken off like this, and they took them off,” Frank Willingham said.

Willingham said he saw one neighbor’s fence being stolen at 8 in the morning by two men in a white van.

“I looked at the van and I saw a lookout guy and I was curious but thought maybe the landlord asked them to fix them?” Willingham said.

At a scrap metal yard the gates are only worth about $12, but there’s value in reselling them “as is” to get an original design. Tripp said some people will pay $500.

“I believe that whoever stole them from us will also try to resell them back,” Tripp said.

Since the fences seem to be such a “hot” commodity these days, police are asking neighbors to be extra vigilant — and for the first time in centuries people are looking for ways to lock down their piece of history.

Some homeowners plan to have a local craftsman try to replicate the missing iron fences. It could cost hundreds of dollars for each one.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below. …

More from Emily Smith
  • duh

    In other cities with historical architecture, iron grates are stolen from basement windows and sold in North/South Carolina to people building replica colonial/victorian homes.

  • rex dart eskimo spy

    In Texas, thieves risk being killed on sight. Too bad NY and NJ haven’t chosen to afford their citizens any form of effective self defense.

  • http://thehawksperch.wordpress.com holycowgirl

    I lived in Boerum Hill from the ’70’s to 90’s before heading west. What’s missing from what is still happening with private property and not new is the constant, devastating assault on homes and cars. And home owners struggle as much or more than renters. Getting some historic treasure for a home you’re trying to restore can involve as much research and hunting as cost. It’s front line war zone living in Brooklyn, constant intruding thieves and hell to pay if you fight back. Electric fences are a great idea.

  • Olrik

    This is like the beginning of “Conan the Barbarian” when the raiders were searching for iron – further indication the US is turning into a 3rd world state…

  • Fuc Brooklyn

    What? People pay $500 for an iron fence and that piece of brick building with bars on the windows worth $2 millon…….in Brooklyn. Come on!


      I cant believe you took the time to write that……..did you make that up all by yourself? Just a note, it should read Million not millon

      • mary

        ahhh the joys of unbridled immigration…its gonna get worst.

  • Hank Warren

    Out-of-control crime, yet another violation of our rights. Add it to the list of gov’t violations of our rights:
    They violate the 1st Amendment by placing protesters in cages, banning books like “America Deceived II” and censoring the internet.

    They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns.

    They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by molesting airline passengers.

    They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars for foreign countries.

    Impeach Obama, vote for Ron Paul.

    (Last link of Banned Book):


    • jasperddbgghost

      (We mean it…we aren’t kidding.)

    • detex

      What? Out of control crime is a violation of your rights? Really, that sounds downright looney to me…

  • Y. B. Gerbil

    Who fences the fences?

  • J. Balla

    Has anyone thought of looking in newly redesigned luxury apartments or mansions in China? Just a thought.

  • Lou

    An armed society is a polite society. We are very polite in Arizona. Fence thieves do not have a chance.

    • jasperddbgghost

      You are correct, good sir.

      Their heads usually sport sunroofs after said attempted thievery.

    • Big Bear

      Out here in Idaho, neighbors mend fences, not steal them. Why spend $2 million to live among thieves?

  • theorvii

    This has been happening in the rural areas for years. Most of the criminals are drug addicts looking for their next fix. Soon they will be cutting down power poles and stealing the copper windings inside your transformers and recycling it. In California we have thieves that can strip agricultural pumps and have the copper on a ship to China or India within 48 hours. ANYTHING that is not toed down is stolen. Some recyclers – despite toughened state laws – are continuing to serve the criminal element. Our county theft went through the roof after our Sheriff was forced to lay off deputies due to budget crisis. And yes – Concealed Carry Permit requests are on the rise but we live in the People’s Republic of California. At least some Sheriff’s still abide by the laws!

  • Lou

    Nobody steals fences in Arizona. We like to think that we have a “polite” society.

    • theorvii

      The cartels have 80 miles of the state – what do they need fences for!? I have rancher friends on the border that are scared to death to leave their families to go to town. The 18′ border fence changes to a 3 wire nothing fence. That won’t stop anything.

  • seenbetterdaze

    Sad story. The real beginning of the really hard times ahead.

    Who was the French writer who came here when the country was new and wrote that “America is GREAT because her people are GOOD…when her people cease to be GOOD she will cease to be GREAT!”

    Weekend stories of the Holiday Riots, Thuggery, Shootings, etc which case beaches and Water parks all over to have to close are a Major WARNING of what will come soon. (and Holder/Obama want to investigate the Pollice for Civil Rights violations?)

    • Cathy

      Yes, seenbetterdaze, I agree with you. We are on the verge of very hard times unless people return to morals, values and loving our neighbor.

  • KD

    He has a 2 million dollar home and bars on his window?

    • T Nails

      Rather have a 2 million dollar home in Fort Greene than some nameless Mc Mansion in the middle of nowhere’sville. People pay what the market demands. Despite the stolen gates, they live in an awesome neighborhood in a City. Get it. City. A place where all walks, poor and rich, share the same concrete. Not some gate bubble. I wouldn’t trade life in Brooklyn because of one stolen gate.

    • Moot Zadell

      Oh, the IRONy!

  • Steven

    I wonder how many of the gateless wonders are liberals. Why are they complaining? It’s society’s fault that those poor little ghetto thugs are stealing your gates. They just want the wealth spread around a little more.

  • Covert Koala

    Two guys with a white van? It was American Pickers!

  • healthywannabe

    the homeowner ought to provide the thiefs with some ‘iron/lead’ from the end of a barrel, that’s what they’d get from me!

  • Mikey

    Electrify ’em.

  • VatVoo

    Wow thats kinda crazy when you think about it.


  • Cathy

    We need to return to teaching people morals and values as children and reinforcing these throughout life. People who Respect and Care about others will not resort to stealing. You shouldn’t have to stand guard over your property 24/7. Love one another; it’s our only hope.

    • daveinlaurel

      Cathy, you’re right. It’s our only hope. Unfortunately, it works one-on one just as it did 2000 years ago, and there may not be enough of us to turn the tide. Our victory will only come at the end. Meanwhile, this stuff and way worse will clog the headlines.

    • Hawke2001

      Get real Cathy. We do enough for those people, its time they start doing for themselves and their offspring.

  • lydia

    People are getting desperate, and unemployment is not helping. These people are turning into a life of crime and that is their only motivation now, what else is there to do one some one has tried to find decent work and all their is out there is Burger Kind, McDonald, all these job have one thing in common, low wages and it leads to a dead-end for the near future. So now these once decent people now have become creative and join the ranks of thieves in-order to make a living and to take care of themselves and family. By no means I make excuses for those that do this and it is still a crime and thus they have become criminals, I blame most of it on our useless government that has cause this to happen in our country, they have cause many Companies and industries to move their business off shore for those same business to survive and make a profit and not be over burden with so much corporate taxes, and the list goes on and on. Lets hope that all of those that were voted into office and remove and replace with those that actually care for the American people. Lets get rid of our useless leader!

    • me

      Do yourself a favor and run a spell check.

      • jaykuppur

        Is there any software that can work on a sample like above checking spelling as well as sentence formation?

      • moi

        Miss the point much, o perfect one?

    • Snad

      Decent people do not turn to lives of crime when things get bad.

      • carter

        wrong!! when decent people have mouths to feed and our government is pushing jobs overseas at an alarming pace thru dominating taxation.. decent people will turn to anything to feed their family!!!!

      • moi

        RIGHT!!! DECENT people do not turn to lives of crime when things get bad!!!


    Simple solution: Tape a line of razor blades on the undersides of your fence……Kinda tough to remove the rest of the fence minus the tips of your fingers………..

    • daveinlaurel

      Interesting deterrent. I could have used such innovative thinking in Vietnam.

  • tubaman

    how did i guess who the people are who do this vandalism?

  • Big MIke


  • dw

    It’s time to start electrifying the gates

  • sylvie

    The unemployed and bored. At least they are innovative… LMAO!

  • Yikes

    This is not new. Most of this crime is not being reported in the crime stats because the NYPD fails to show up to take the reports.

  • Mitchell Trinka

    @ Daniel Fitzsimmons

    This story was first reported by me on May 26. This was a New York Times exclusive.


  • Daniel Fitzsimmons

    how is this an exclusive? in news parlance, an exclusive is when a (usually prominent) source gives you information no other news outlet, or anyone else for that matter, knows. I don’t believe this qualifies.

  • owace

    legalize handgun ownership and introduce a castle doctrine. A couple of shootings later this should no longer be an issue.

    • Avenger

      Right on Owace!! A very simple and clear responce to these thieves. Oh, I forgot, the Government and the liberals don’t want us to own guns.

      • amplitude jones

        because they like disarmed victims… armed victims WIN. Crazy EVIL hysterical freak democrats: the end of civilization!

      • BigFoot77

        Especially New York’s beloved Mayor Bloomberg who is a staunch anti-gun advocate. Y’all need to vote the bum out. I say the responsibility lies in the Mayor’s lap.

    • Mort Adella

      This rarely happens in Texas. Guess why

      • T Nails.

        Hey numbnuts. Every major Texan City has a higher crime rate than NYC. Guess Why?

      • Tom Walter

        Nor Does This Happen In Florida, Why? .45 cal Does’nt Feel Good Going Through Ones Head. Legal Concealed Carry Is The Answer.

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