St. Paul colleges easy targets for brassy bathroom capers

  • Updated: March 31, 2008 - 9:08 PM

The bathrooms of several of St. Paul's private colleges have become playgrounds for vandalism and thievery.

What's needed now?

The sweet smell of justice.

Last Wednesday night, brass pipes and flush valves were stolen from seven toilets and a urinal at the University of St. Thomas and Macalester College, security officials say.

Late Sunday, a Hamline University School of Law restroom was struck by "taggers," who removed a chrome-plated pipe connected to the toilet there, as well.

There have been no arrests.

But Terry Gorman, director of safety and security at Macalester, said similarities between the Macalester and St. Thomas capers suggest the same person or people might be responsible for Wednesday's incidents.

As a recyclable material, brass currently fetches about $1.70 per pound, or about a dollar more than it did a year ago, said Rick Mark, owner of National Recycling Inc. of Hugo.

Copper, long identified as the metal of choice among thieves but not the target in this case, now sells for $3.05 to $3.10 per pound, he added.

Whoever made off with the St. Thomas and Macalester fixtures knew what they were doing, Gorman said.

The water supply to the stalls was shut off, he said, and the pipes above the porcelain were unscrewed, not cut.

At St. Thomas, three pieces of pipe work were stolen from restrooms at O'Shaughnessy Educational Center, and pipes were loosened but not removed at Murray-Herrick Campus Center.

JacQui Getty, a Hamline spokeswoman, said its bathroom incident was not believed to be related because the act there involved primarily vandalism.

There were five juvenile suspects, police said.

And the graffiti?

Cartoons, Getty said, maybe some names. But, she added, it being a bathroom and all -- "nothing that was offensive."

ANTHONY LONETREE

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