Friday, September 16, 2011

The Copper Wiring Theft Epidemic

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While identity theft may be the fastest growing white collar crime in the United States today, I suspect that copper wiring theft might not be far behind.  Everywhere, across the country, thieves are hitting and stealing copper wire from construction sites, abandoned houses, and even churches.

According to news reports, one church, St. Ignatius of Antioch Catholic Church, of San Francisco, has been hit four times by copper wiring thieves in the past four months.  How low will some thieves go -- to steal from a church?!

I did a little checking on some statistics about this growing problem.  According to the Department of Energy, this copper theft epidemic costs crime victims over $1 billion per year.  One reason involves the fact that, according to the New York Times, the salvage price of copper has skyrocketed in recent years, from about $1.25 per pound in 2009 to a whopping $4.00 per pound today!  It is no wonder, then, that crooks are crawling under vacant houses, and even under churches, to steal copper!

What can be done about this growing problem?  As a former federal prosecutor, I would recommend that purchasers of copper wiring be required to maintain better records about those who bring in the copper, (much like the requirements for recording data about pawn shop purchases).  Also, it may be inevitable that some law enforcement agencies will be required to form copper theft investigative units. (Should they be called the "a.c. units?!") These are difficult crimes to solve, aren't they?

Do you know of anyone who is a copper theft victim?  What do you think should be done about this growing problem?

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