FORT WORTH, Texas -- It's not a new crime but don't think for a second Fort Worth has seen it on this scale.
For more than a month, Fort Worth police say someone has been tearing out the city's parking meters. At last count, 79 were heavily damaged or simply gone.
On Wednesday, they arrested one man they think is partly responsible.
Anthony Downs was taken into custody downtown when officers conducting surveillance say they spotted him trying to steal parking meter heads. They later found a pile nearby, according to Officer Jimmy Pollozani.
"Sometimes they're taking the whole meters," Pollozani said. "Or, what Mr. Downs was doing was taking the meter head from a previous one and knock off the next meter head."
Downs spoke to News 8 from jail on Thursday.
Although he initially denied being involved, he soon admitted he was one of the thieves.
"You can only carry one or two at a time," he said. "You're lucky if you get four or five blocks. Nickles, quarters, sometimes pennies. It's the only way to survive."
Downs said he's homeless, one of a handful from the streets he insists are also targeting downtown meters.
"I'm not the only one out there doing it," he said. "There are other people out there doing it that have to survive somehow."
He said a meter typically spits out just a few dollars in coins, although sometimes it's more.
While the payout may seem low, what the city might have to pay for replacing the meters certainly won't be.
As News 8 first reported in March, at least one vendor that supplies some of Fort Worth's meters says they cost up to $800 each, not including installation costs.
City officials didn't respond to questions about how many meters need to be fully replaced and if they were tracking potential lost revenue.
The First United Methodist Church gave News 8 a photo one of their staff members recently snapped that shows a big pile of stolen heads located on their property.
Pollozani said Downs will face theft charges once detectives nail down how many he allegedly stole. For now, he's being held on charges of evading arrest and providing false information.
The investigation is ongoing.
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