Copper Thefts Reach ‘Epidemic’ Level

by Karl Utermohlen | July 30, 2013 4:30 pm

The high price that copper is commanding these days is making it the preferred target of thieves all around the country. From highway construction sites to water wells and cellular towers, thieves have many different ways to steal this hot commodity and sell it for thousands of dollars.

CNBC reports[1] that copper thefts are increasing at an alarming rate all around the U.S. largely due to the fact that this precious metal is traded at $3 a pound. Some thieves are making north of $60,000 per heist[2] in the copper-stealing business.

Although stealing copper may seem like a victimless crime, some people are getting electrocuted and dying trying to steal copper wire from electrical power substations and utility poles. Additionally, the Department of Energy says that it’s causing a lot of damage to essential U.S. infrastructure and it’s costing  American businesses almost $1 billion of damages every year.

The penalties for convicted copper thieves have gotten stricter in recent years, but they’re still not much more than a slap in the wrist according to the president of the American Supply Association. Unless these penalties become harsher, copper thieves will continue to cash in on the destruction of water supplies and electrical power stations.

Endnotes:
  1. CNBC reports: http://www.cnbc.com/id/100917758
  2. north of $60,000 per heist: http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2013/03/montgomery_theft_leaves_68000.html

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