Copper thefts becoming widespread problem in Shasta County

Sep 3, 2014 7:50 PM by Charlene Cheng

Copper, a base metal currently worth up to $2.83 per pound, is 100% recyclable, and it is more increasingly become the go-to target to make a quick buck.

"It is a really big problem. I know that thieves don't think twice about damaging equipment, wiring, buildings to get a small amount of copper just because it's that valuable," said Redding Public Works Supervisor Christina Piles.

According to the latest statistics from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which tracks incidents of metal theft, 33,775 claims were filed from 2010 to 2012.

96% were for copper alone.

Stolen copper is valuable as scrap because the metal is used for so many items, from fiber optics to plumbing to air conditioning.

"It is used a lot in manufacturing, and it worth a lot, so you don't need a lot of weight when you turn it in," Piles said.

She adds that local scrap yard owners say they are careful who they buy from, and work with police to report any suspicious sellers, but often times thieves will make it a point to travel to another city to sell their copper.

"I know that often times the police departments from other areas will contact us and the scrap yards and say hey, keep an eye out for a certain metal that was stolen in another area, so everyone's really working together to try to stop the illegal sale of copper," Piles said.


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