Metal theft is the stealing of scrap metals

How to Stop Metal Theft

Metal theft is the stealing of scrap metals such as: copper, aluminum, nickel, stainless steel and scrap iron, which are usually an essential element to a finished product.

For quick financial gain, scrap metal is usually obtained from various articles such as bicycles, vehicles, and playground equipment. Common favorite beleaguered sites are vacant houses, scrap dealer businesses and construction sites. Metal thieves have also been known to steal from railway sites, power plant sites, and well-lit sites like baseball and soccer fields. Sadly, thieves have even targeted metal from historic statues and the roof fixtures of churches and cemeteries.

Metal thieves mark areas that usually have a high amount of valuable metal. Places with plumbing fixtures or a high amount of copper wiring on light fixtures are potential victims to this growing problem. When the market crashed in 2008, there was an abundance of foreclosed houses and abandoned construction sites, which may have helped the recent rise in scrap metal theft. Metal theft has become a rising problem in the country, especially after the recession.

Cities face huge economic consequences due to metal theft. According to the Center for Problem- Oriented Policing “the cost of repairing damaged transformers or substations can run anywhere from $500,000 to $11 million”.

This crime is motived by the draw to the fast fix of cash. Drug users and organized thieves are prime motivators for metal theft.  However, the damage these thieves cause cost the cities more than the value of the metal they steal.  Organizations and government agencies should be seeking new ways to stop scrap metal theft.

Since the metal is less valuable than the fixtures or articles that contain the metal, deterrence is the most logical cost saving answer.  Stopping the crime before it happens.  Standard video surveillance and lighting will not stop the perpetrators.  Only specialized vandal resistance deterrent cameras can help stop the needless repairs metal theft causes.


Theft at construction site

Preventing Construction Site Theft

Not surprisingly, theft is the most common crime in the construction industry. According to a study done by The Chartered Institute of Building, over 92% of respondents in the construction industry were aware of theft occurring in their company. Most of these thefts are the result of a lack of security when the sites are closed. An unsecured site is an open invitation to criminals so all measures should be taken to secure the site. While permanent sites can be properly protected via fixed surveillance systems, temporary locations such as construction sites require a more flexible solution.

The cost of being the victim of construction theft runs deeper than just the value of the items stolen. You also have to factor in the delays in work, the cost to replace materials and supplies, and the cost of renting or replacing equipment and tools along with the increased insurance premiums you’ll have to pay going forward.

It is critical to implement a game plan to proactively prevent thefts at your construction site. A solid security plan should involve multiple layers of theft deterrents and measures. The harder it is to access your site, the less likely thieves will target it.

A short-term investment will turn out to be very cost-effective in the long run. The cost of securing your site will be quickly regained through reduction in thefts. The cost of security is part of the cost of doing business in the construction industry.

Copper Theft

Copper Theft “Is an Epidemic”

Copper theft is a serious problem.  There must be ways to stop scrap metal theft or the US will waste millions of dollars a year replacing it.  An article published in CNBC says that copper theft in the US has become “like an epidemic”. CNBC describes copper theft as “1 billion business”. Center for Problem-Oriented Policing estimates the economic impact to replace certain scrap metal crimes could be anywhere upward from $500,000 to $11 million.

Copper theft is usually the most popular of scrap metal crimes. Metal thieves in Utah were able to “steal 6 miles of copper from Utah highway”, copper valuing $50,000 and $60,000. UDOT spends roughly $300,000 to $400,000 annually replacing copper alone.  According to Mike Adelizzi, president of the American Supply Association, who is quoted in the CNBC article says, “There’s no question the theft has gotten much, much worse,”. Copper was valued a lot higher before the recession in 2008. Even with the drop in copper value, copper theft has risen. Some people predicted that copper theft would decrease with the recession, but this was proven wrong.

Statistics from the National Insurance Crime Bureau states that there has been an overall 80% increase in copper theft since 2008. 2008-2012 says there has been 25,083 insurance claims compared with only 13,861 claims from the 2006-2008. The recent incline in copper theft may have to do with the abandoned houses, giving more opportunities to steal copper pipes, or possibly the overall need for the fast fix of cash. But there is definitely has been a direct correlation between the recent recession and the incline in copper theft.

Copper theft is very costly. The Department of Energy states copper theft causes almost $1 billion in losses to U.S. businesses each year. CNBC says governments are developing laws and protocols for stopping scrap metal theft, but they say, “Stopping theft is unlikely”. Preventative measures need to be taken and researched to find new ways to stop scrap metal theft, or this copper theft epidemic may continue.