Copper Theft On the Rise

Copper fetches nearly three dollars a pound at scrapyards these days, and the demand does not appear to be abating at all. This is leading to a continuing rise in copper theft.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that this once mere nuisance has bloomed into a $1 billion per year nightmare as thieves target construction sites, abandoned buildings, and commercial heating and air conditioning units. According to the Central Connecticut Post, the destruction of a single $3,000 air conditioner could give a thief just $25 worth of copper. This leaves businesses on the hook to repair or replace equipment stripped of copper, resulting in losses of electricity, water, heating or air conditioning, and often a disruption of business until repairs are completed.

Approximately 90 percent of copper thefts occur during nights or weekends, when buildings are likely empty.

Common recommendations for deterring copper theft include painting copper black to disguise it as plastic tubing, fencing areas with copper, or investing in alarm systems, surveillance cameras or security officers. 

Click here to view the full infographic.