When times get tough in a specific region, one of the things you can rely upon is an increase in copper theft. Scrap metal rates are typically consistent and copper is one of the most common and easily accessible metals that can be stolen. It is in wire, part of a plumbing system, and can even be part of a home’s trim.
In the United States, copper theft incidents have more than tripled within the last 5 years.
The numbers say it all. Between 2006-2008, there were a little more than 13,000 reported incidents of copper theft. Between 2010-2012, there were over 32,000 incidents of copper theft. With copper prices at $3.00 per pound, there is a lot of incentive to find more metal and thieves are willing to look just about anywhere for it. With eager international buyers, increasing exports, and people willing to look the other way at questionable sources, it is easy to understand why copper theft is becoming more common.
- The amount of copper that is successfully stolen and redeemed exceeds $1 billion annually.
- One of the fastest growing niche industries within the security field is the specific stopping of copper theft.
- There were only 1,200 insurance claims between 2010-2012 for metals other than copper filed by individuals or organizations.
How big of a business is it to get copper melted down? Even older pennies in the US are worth more than a penny because of the amount of copper that they contain! It’s understandable to see why copper thefts are on the rise, but a few controls in place can help to reduce incidents. Requiring recyclers to verify how copper was obtained and get certified statements to the validity of the scrap metal has driven down theft incidents in communities where this requirement is strictly enforced. Knowing that theft statistics for copper rise when its price per pound rises can also help local authorities prepare for possible issues.
What Does Copper Theft Take Place?
- Ohio ranks first amongst all states who have insurance claims for stolen metal, having 600 more than the next state on the list.
- The New York-New Jersey area is the metropolitan area that reports the most metal theft claims within the communities borders.
- Not every copper theft incident requires an insurance claim or a police report, which may skew the results of today’s research.
- One of the most effective methods of deterring copper theft is to be vigilant and watchful within neighborhoods and business sectors.
- Over $319 billion in insurance premiums were written in 2011 with about 80% of them designed to help provide protection against copper theft.
- Police patrols to scrap yards have increased 75% specifically because of the increase in copper theft instances.
- Although copper theft is thought of as a victimless crime, repair personnel and the thieves themselves can be fatally injured because of the damage that copper theft can cause.
Copper theft is something that threatens the very infrastructure of a company because the invention and implementation of the power grid is based on copper wire. Many of the power lines that are strung above the ground have copper cable within them, which causes thieves to climb up the pole and potentially cause themselves a fatal injury. To prevent this, some states have implemented laws that require serial number tracking and exact records for copper recycling to happen – with steep penalties for thieves and recyclers who choose not to follow the law. One thing is for certain: with copper prices remaining high, so will the incidents of theft.
How Bad Is The Copper Theft Epidemic?
- An Australian man posed as a cable repair technician and was able to remove over $110,000 of copper materials from over 400 homes before being caught.
- More than $68,000 of copper wire was stolen from a US electrical utility because a thief was able to steal multiple 1,000 pound rolls of copper wire.
- 7 people were able to take copper from power utility substations in Ohio and sell it for $15,000 before being caught.
- Copper wire that was stolen from a substation in Kansas caused more than $150,000 in damages and knocked out power for some time to the city.
- For every substation that has copper wire removed from it, the minimum repair cost in the US is $3,000 and that doesn’t account for losses that occur because of power losses to individual customers.
- One of the fastest methods to combat copper theft is to install copper wiring that has a steel outer core because the value of this type of cable is a fraction of straight copper wire.
There’s a good chance that the home you’re in right now has some extensive copper wiring in it. Although it won’t be enough to make a financial difference for you, now multiply what you have by all of the homes in the neighborhood or community. That’s what the copper thief is going to look at and that’s why community watch programs can be so effective. Thieves are brazen, however, so today you have to protect everything inside and outside of your home – even your home’s generator, even if it is turned on.
Something To Consider About Copper Theft
- 55% of the claims on copper theft were on commercial policies.
- Since 2009, metal thefts have consistently increased in the US on a year-by-year basis.
- AT&T released a guide for law enforcement officials to assist them in how to identify copper thieves and the origins of copper cable.
- In Texas, up to 40% of copper thefts occurred in homes that were under construction and only 10% of theft incidents were because of a forced entry.
Until metal prices drop, copper theft incidents will still continue to be high. That means it is imperative for home owners and businesses to insure themselves against these losses. If copper prices go down and another metal price goes up, then everything talked about here for copper theft will then simply apply to the new valuable metal.