Crime: Dismantling Detroit

Dismantling Detroit

The tumbledown house on Van Dyke Avenue on Detroit's gritty East Side looks as if it fell from the sky. Actually, it collapsed after scavengers pried the bricks out from the foundation. Armed with wagons, shopping carts, wheelbarrows and pickup trucks, vandals have descended upon the city's empty buildings. In some cases, they have hauled away entire walls and porches, brick by brick. These thefts are a new wrinkle in free-lance demolition on the East Side, which has also experienced a plague of aluminum-siding rip-offs.

The scavengers sell their booty to scrap dealers. While new red bricks cost about $450 per...

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