Copper Tops List for Construction Material Theft

Builders and municipalities seek solutions to thwart theft. Here's a round-up of recent incidents.

August 23, 2006

Reports of construction theft continue to surface across the U.S. with copper being the most lucrative target. Law enforcement officials say recovery of stolen material is difficult since there is no practical way to identify it. Thieves are even risking their lives when stealing copper and other metals, with reports of electrocution and injury. In the meantime, builders and municipalities are desperately seeking solutions to thwart theft.

In Wisconsin, recyclers are close to agreeing to a plan that would make it more onerous for thieves to sell their stolen goods. Under the plan, recyclers and police would exchange information via e-mail and digital photos, putting a real-time squeeze on crime. Within minutes, every scrap yard in the state could be notified when something is stolen. Thieves could no longer cross county lines to find a scrap dealer that wasn't part of the network.

See Businesses Work to Make Thefts Harder, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

In South Carolina, an article appearing in The Charlotte Observer says copper is disappearing at a high rate even though in many cases thieves are putting their lives at risk. About five people have been electrocuted or injured in their attempts, according to reports.

See Hot Copper Market has Thefts SurgingThe Charlotte Observer

An article in The Orlando Sentinel Central reports Florida is being stripped clean of copper where in the city of Orlando alone 142 cases of copper theft and 51 cases of aluminum theft have occurred so far this year. That's twice as many as in the same period last year. 

See Demand for Building Materials Spurs a Spike in Thefts of Metal, The Orlando Sentinel



Eastern Idaho neighborhoods have been experiencing scavengerlike burglar raids on construction sites where thieves strip what they can out of not-yet-completed homes. Newly installed cabinets, appliances and sinks are the most coveted items.

See More Burglars are Stealing from Construction Sites, Idaho Falls Post Register



Thieves who pilfer building materials have also been busy in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area where some local builders are fighting back with services such as eCamSecure, a mobile security unit that has video cameras high up on poles.

See Homes Protected by Eye in the Sky, The Dallas Morning News



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