The higher the price of copper at Joe’s Junk Yard, the more utilities, schools, plants, construction sites and telecommunications companies get hit by thieves. Almost on a weekly basis, power lines have been cut, cell towers damaged, train rails stolen, condenser coils taken and copper wire wrangled as whole neighborhoods have often gone dark or phoneless. 
Beyond typical prevention measures, there are special systems that bundle motion detection, security video and cellular telephone to send alerts and buffered images at the time of an incident. And in some locations, local governments are improving records and identification checking by scrap yard operators.
Still, the theft continues. One loss guess: $2.5 billion annually in materials stolen, services lost and damages repaired.

Even farmers – with agriculture considered a critical infrastructure – are not immune. Copper wire thieves, for example, have been hitting farms in Franklin County, Wash., this past winter, stealing wire from numerous irrigation circles and farm equipment. In West Virginia, two men were recently arrested in Lowell for cutting power lines in order to steal copper wiring. They are suspected of other, similar incidents. And in Florida, Charlotte County Sheriff’s detectives arrested three people for cutting and stealing telephone copper wire under the U.S. 41 northbound bridge on the Port Charlotte side.