Better Late Than Never: Copper Thieves on FBI Radar

copper theft sign photo

John previously noted that the bottom has fallen out of the recycled metal market, and it will be a while before the meth heads are after your downspouts; The FBI evidently did not read his post and just released a report titled Copper Thefts Threaten US Critical Infrastructure. Some of the more dramatic thefts:

copper theft billboard photo


* According to open-source reporting, on 4 April 2008, five tornado warning sirens in the Jackson, Mississippi, area did not warn residents of an approaching tornado because copper thieves had stripped the sirens of copper wiring, thus rendering them inoperable.

* According to open-source reporting, on 20 March 2008, nearly 4,000 residents in Polk County, Florida, were left without power after copper wire was stripped from an active transformer at a Tampa Electric Company (TECO) power facility. Monetary losses to TECO were approximately $500,000.

* According to agricultural industry reporting, as of March 2007, farmers in Pinal County, Arizona , were experiencing a copper theft epidemic as perpetrators stripped copper from their water irrigation wells and pumps resulting in the loss of crops and high replacement costs. Pinal County’s infrastructure loss due to copper theft was $10 million.

The FBI notes that it is tough to stop:

Many states are also taking countermeasures by enacting or enhancing legislation regulating the scrap industry––to include increased recordkeeping and penalties for copper theft and noncompliant scrap dealers. However, there are limited resources available to enforce these laws, and a very small percentage of perpetrators are arrested and convicted. Additionally, as copper thefts are typically addressed as misdemeanors, those individuals convicted pay relatively low fines and serve short prison terms.

But the economy has taken a huge bite out of it. FBI via Wired
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