Copper Theft on the Rise
Now that copper is quite valuable, thieves are becoming more and more brazen. Locally there has been a rash of copper thefts from construction sites. Since 2005, the price of copper pipe and wire has risen nearly 150 percent. Thieves steal these valuable metals and re-sell them to scrap metal buyers. Copper is commonly used in wiring, plumbing, roof flashing, gutters and downspouts.
Police in several Cape Cod towns have been investigating the theft of thousands of dollars in copper from several locations this summer.
On Aug. 14, Barnstable police arrested two men for receiving stolen copper at Ferreira’s scrap metal shop on Thornton Drive in Hyannis.
Yarmouth police have been investigating the theft of copper from the site of the new world headquarters for the International Fund for Animal Welfare on Willow Street in West Yarmouth. Copper was also stolen from an NStar truck on Route 28.
Copper thefts are being reported all over the U.S.
from KVBC Las Vegas:
The name, Copper Creek Estates, couldn’t be more appropriate. The crime couldn’t be more brazen. 2,000 feet, that’s 14,000 pounds, of phone cable, cut down for the copper. “Luckily, not snapping any of the poles that it was attached to. They then took about 1,100 feet of that cable and put over 2,000 people out of service,” explains Embarq Scott Mitchell.
Embarq has had 15 thefts in just the last three months. Last week at the Cherry Lane II construction site, thieves stole a water truck, hooked a chain to it, and pulled down 1,000 more feet of cable.
14,000 pounds of copper cable at $3/.lb, that’s quite a heist.
Particularly disturbing is this report from The Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute:
Theft of Copper from A/C Units Rises
The rising cost of copper has led to a rash of thefts of copper tubing in residential and commercial air-conditioning units across the United States, the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) reports on its website.
In Dallas this month, a church moved its service after thieves stole the building’s air-conditioning units for the copper. In Seguin, Texas, several small business owners had copper tubing stolen from their units.
In Hillsboro, Ore., a small business owner arrived at work to find three of his building’s four air-conditioning units gutted. Reports of similar thefts have emanated from Kentucky, North Carolina, Nebraska, Indiana and South Carolina, according to ARI.
I imagine it is only a matter of time before thieves start targeting the basements of unoccupied homes and cutting and stealing the copper pipes right out of the basement ceiling. With a sawzall and basement access, it would not take very long to completely strip a house of it’s exposed copper plumbing pipes.
On a related note, the rising price of stainless steel has given way to a rash of stolen beer kegs.
The beer industry’s national trade group, the Beer Institute, noticed the problem in the past few years as it saw more brewers reporting missing kegs, resulting in an industry wide loss of up to $50 million a year, said Jeff Becker, president of the Beer Institute.
As is usually the case, the Cape Cod area will likely see a spike in these sorts of crimes over the winter season. Hiring a security patrol service can deter these sorts of thefts.
This problem is getting out of control. It seems the harder law enforcement works at educating the public and stopping the crimes. The smarter and more efficient the thieves become. The cost of copper will only continue to increase making the problem worse. Smart targeted prevention is the only option.