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The Importance of Copper Theft Prevention

Mar 27, 2023

Jon James

As the price for high-grade copper reaches above $2.00 a pound (nearing $3), many construction and electrical companies face threats from thieves who steal bulk copper, and leave you and/or your customer left footing the replacement bill. Much of the copper theft seen by law enforcement can be attributed to individuals seeking to make a quick buck.

The environmental and financial impact of copper theft is extensive. Thieves strip copper wiring and piping from homes, utility properties, and electrical infrastructure. Service disruptions often ensue. The Department of Energy estimates that a theft of just $100 in copper wire can cost a utility company more than $5,000 to repair.

In addition, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), has said that the theft of copper, which is increasingly valuable because it can be used for so many purposes, is threatening U.S. infrastructure – electrical substations, cellular towers, telephone land lines, railroads, water wells, construction sites, and vacant homes.

While many metal recycling plants and scrap yards have joined forces with law enforcement, ensuring only legitimate transactions occur, there is only so much that they can reasonably be expected to do. Unfortunately, many jurisdictions don’t enforce copper theft at all, leaving that area more susceptible to theft.

Managing the supply of copper is just one key to ensuring the safety of your copper. Schedule deliveries to prevent unnecessary volumes of on-site copper. Never schedule deliveries on Fridays or on the weekends. Take measures to conceal copper. Use lockable storage containers, buildings, or wire cages to secure large quantities of copper on site.

Stopping theft, and catching thieves. That is the goal. Wireless night vision video and motion sensors, with battery backups, are both great tools in the fight against copper theft. Marking the copper with an RFID – radio frequency identifier tag –  is yet another great tool. Many companies see positive results from tightened security.

According to the latest statistics from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which tracks incidents of metal theft, 25,083 insurance claims were filed from 2009 to 2011, compared with 13,861 from 2006 to 2008. Nearly 96 percent of the claims in the recent period were for copper theft.

These stats, and others just like them, can be prevented by investing in high-quality anti-theft products such as pole locks, panel locks, Arkmann plastic nozzles, and grate locks. These products were created by an electrician with over twenty years of industry experience. Inspired by his client’s frustration with copper theft, End Metal Theft was born.