Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana legislators are working to crack down on copper thieves, devising similar legislation so someone will not be able to steal copper from one state and try to sell it in another, WAFB reports.

According to Kurt Wall of the Louisiana Attorney General’s office, “There is so much damage done in the retrieval of those (copper) products. In other words if someone goes into a house that is under construction, they may do 10 or 20 thousand dollars’ worth of damage to retrieve maybe $200, $300-worth of recyclable materials.”

The Louisiana State Police reports that the state had 44 copper thefts reported in 2009, 125 in 2010, and nearly 200 reported thefts in 2011.

WAFB reports that is has been difficult to catch copper thieves in the past because they could exchange copper for cash. With the cooperation of the recycling industry, tracking criminals down has become easier, but Wall warns that the thieves are just developing more creative means of theft: “There have been reports where thieves have actually followed energy trucks around and stolen spools of copper.”