Skyrocketing prices for metals, especially copper, have made what was once a minor nuisance into a major problem costing over $1 billion/year according to the US Dept of Energy. Pipes, wires, cables, gutters, flashing are being torn from walls and buildings. Roof-top air units are being stripped of their copper coils.
Thieves target copper in vacant buildings or difficult to secure areas, often without power or communication lines including:
• Construction Sites - theft of copper plumbing, wiring, generators and materials.
• Vacant Buildings - theft of copper plumbing, wiring, air conditioners.
• Communications Towers - theft of copper busbars, wiring and cables.
• Electrical Sub-stations - theft of copper grounding bars and cables.
• Foreclosed Properties - theft of copper plumbing, wires, sprinkler systems, and cooling systems.
In addition, the collateral damage done ripping pipes and wires out of walls far exceeds the actual cost of the copper stolen.
Now the thieves are hitting homes!
To protect your home and business BBB offers the following tips to avoid being victimized:
• When away from home, make sure your house and outbuildings are securely locked. If you are gone for an extended period of time, notify police and have a trusted friend or neighbor watch your property. Put lights on a timer device, stop mail, newspaper and deliveries. Both homeowners and businesses should consider installing exterior motion-sensor lights.
• Store all tools and wire cutters in secure location.
• Store all materials containing copper in a secured building.
• Secure construction sites and consider hiring a night security guard.
• Secure vacant houses, apartments and other buildings. These are common targets of copper thieves.
• Secure items where possible. Keep mobile items thieves could pilfer inside. For larger targets, like air conditioning units, keep the area fenced in and the fences locked.
• Make it difficult for thieves. Move dumpsters and ladders away from buildings to make it difficult for thieves to reach rooftop refrigeration units. Clear ground-level air conditioning equipment of underbrush so others can spot people attempting to work around the unit.
• Invest in security at home. Add motion sensing or continuous outdoor lighting around air conditioning units.
• Start a neighborhood watch. Get to know your neighbors and ask them to help keep watch. Never assume the person working on the neighbor’s air conditioner or gutters is a repairman. Check with the neighbors, then call the police.
• Mark materials. If materials are stolen, the best chance of identifying them is to make them stand out from other similar material that might come to a recycler legitimately. Marking items with bright paint, and etching an identification number at various places can make materials stand out.
• To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org.