We’ve seen this before in years past. When the economy turns down, copper thefts increase. That’s because there’s always been a demand for the metal. It is used in electrical work, plumbing, HVAC units, gutters, appliances and fiber optics.
Copper is also relatively easy to steal. It’s everywhere in the form of copper pipes, tubing and electrical wiring. The metal can literally be found in nearly every structure and construction site. When people are not around, thieves can have an easy time removing large quantities of the metal.
After stealing it, robbers sell copper for scrap. In recent years, prices have remained high, at about $3.00 per pound. This fact, along with a growing demand overseas, makes copper very attractive to would-be robbers.
Across the country, copper theft has grown to become a $1 billion industry.
When copper is stolen, the cost to businesses is much more than just the dollar value of the stolen pipe and wiring. According to SiouxSteel.com, each dollar of stolen copper costs businesses $100 to replace.
To get at the copper, thieves often rip up walls and ceilings or destroy property. The damage they cause far exceeds the dollar value of the stolen copper. Insurance claims typically follow to get the property repaired, which can result in increased premiums.
Finally, there is the cost of employees’ time and lost productivity. Instead of having them do their regular jobs, they are now dealing with the aftermath of the copper theft.
The time, effort and cost involved after a copper theft could easily be avoided, though. The key is to keep a security guard detail at the property.
How to prevent copper theft
Onsite security officers bring a four-fold advantage:
- Their presence alone will prompt most would-be robbers to move on;
- They can stop robbers who make it onto the property before a theft begins, and damage is caused;
- They can call law enforcement after apprehending robbers and ensure prosecution;
- Staffing security guards is a much cheaper option than the cost of the damage caused by a copper theft.
Here’s a news clip about how thieves stole $40,000 in copper pipes from a construction site that had no security cameras or onsite security guards protecting the site causing delays and making the construction more costly.
The allure of easy money makes copper robbers brazen. Nothing illustrates this point better than a recent CNBC.com story about burglars stealing copper from a Utah highway construction site. They made off with six miles of copper wire!
Tenants in a St. Louis apartment complex in July lost their water service when three thieves sawed through the water mains in the basement and walked out with the copper pipe—in daylight. To make matters worse, they did not turn off the water! The apartment complex experienced damage from the flooding.
Later that month, the copper pipe inside the very Montgomery, AL apartment where Rosa Parks lived when she made civil rights history was removed. The copper thieves heavily damaged Park’s former home.
California is not immune to this trend, either. It is one of the top five states for copper thefts. In 2013, robbers caused entire Fresno neighborhoods to go dark by stealing the copper wiring from street light maintenance boxes. Thieves even took the wiring from freeway lights, signs and metering signals, putting drivers at risk.
In Sacramento, there has been a rash of copper thefts from public utilities over the last three years.
Ninety per cent of these thefts occur at night when people are not around. To reduce the likelihood of serious copper losses, and the resulting costs, businesses need to secure their properties with onsite security guards.
American Security Force is Southern California’s leading security guard supplier. We develop specialized security solutions to meet our clients’ needs. Our officers are highly trained and experienced professionals and can supply the needed security to thwart would-be copper thieves.
To learn more about how we can secure your property from copper theft, call us at 877-722-8585.