Copper Wire Theft Rising In US

David Cornell

Copper wire theft is rising across the US.

According to recent theft records, it looks like copper is the new gold. The metal is becoming such a hot commodity that thieves are going after it anywhere they can get it. The most common form of copper these days is electrical wiring, which is composed of several "threads" of the metal and extremely difficult to separate from its casing. Copper had once replaced aluminum as the standard in wiring due to its malleability (ability to be bent without breaking) and heat resistance.

Among the major victims thus far include an electrical power station in Kansas, some homes in New Jersey, and a Utah highway construction site. Most likely the reason behind the copper wire theft is that scrap yards pay the most for it out of all the types of metal commonly used. Scrappers are being tracked to minimize the chances that the metal is being taken illegally, but these measures just aren't enough.

Mike Adelizzi, president of the nonprofit American Supply Association, says that there was a common misconception that copper wire theft had gone down after the recession, leading to the price going down, but that's not true.

Michael Gurka, managing director of Spectrum Asset Management, states, "Copper prices have leveled since the recession, but they're still high enough to have people steal it. It's also a very tangible asset and hard to trace, and reselling it can bring in lots of money."

The rising amount of copper wire theft has led to the demand going up for businesses across the US, as nearly everything is being stolen for the scrap resale value. Thieves aren't happy sticking to electrical items people throw out to the road. They're moving up to breaking and entering just to acquire it. The five most common states for copper wire theft are Ohio, Texas, Georgia, California and Illinois.

If you think there is a major copper wire theft going on in your neighborhood, the best way to stave off being a victim would be to lock your doors and avoid leaving any heavy machinery outside where the public can see it or get to it.

Have you seen any incidents of copper wire theft in your area?

[image via Shutterstock]