SUMMERVILLE -- Thieves have swiped more than a dozen clothes dryers from local apartment complexes in a brazen case of laundry room larceny.

Are they going for the coins? Looking for scrap metal? Trying to create a massive lint ball?

No one is quite sure. But the thefts have left a trail of soggy laundry across this suburban community since late August, when crooks began appropriating the appliances.

The thieves have been nothing if not bold. They hit one apartment complex a couple of days in a row, making off with four dryers and a washing machine, police said. Another complex got nearly the same treatment, losing five of its dryers in the process, according to police reports.

Witness reports suggest the thieves simply ride up in pickup and haul the machines away faster than you can say "spin cycle." The stolen machines were worth between $400 and $1,500 each, police said.

Police Capt. Jon Rogers said investigators think the dryer bandits are after the money in the coin-operated machines. He said police have identified suspects, but he couldn't say for sure when arrests would be made.

The first theft was reported Aug. 30 at Wellington Place Apartments, which lost two dryers. The thieves hit Waters Edge Apartments on Dorchester Road three times over the next seven days, making off with five machines. Along the way, they snatched two more dryers from Westbury Mews on Trolley Road, police said.

Midland Terrace on Midland Parkway lost five machines as well. "Have I seen anything like it? Heck no," said Midland maintenance supervisor Ralph Burton. "In 11 years of working here, I've never had anything stolen off the property."

Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or twitter.com/glennsmith5.