How to Stop Copper Thieves from Destroying Foreclosed Homes

by : Rosalie Kimberlin

It seems like nothing is sacred anymore. Thieving scavengers have attacked everything from copper cable used to control train signals to air conditioners in churches. In the latter instance $23,000 in damage was caused by the thieves in their quest for the copper from five air conditioners in a church. The thieves usually cause more costs to the victims in damage by their primitive methods of removing the copper. They will tear anything up including cement floors to get to pipes or wires. The cost of copper has increased from about 69 cents a pound to $3.50 to $4.00 a pound. A good percentage of these thieves are meth heads and the theft of copper and other metals such as aluminum contribute to their habit.

At least 16 states have passed or proposed tougher regulations to increase the penalties for the theft of scrap metals, and want scrap metal companies to be more responsible when making purchases from seedy characters.

This is in no way a chump change crime wave. It has been estimated that in addition to the disruption of the flow of electricity, slowed construction projects, interrupted irrigation crucial to commercial farmers, the lose to business is around a billion dollars.

With the staggering number of home foreclosures, and the fact that most realtors and bankers do not want to board up these vacant homes, the theft of copper pipes, wire from air conditioners and other scrap metal such as aluminum has increased dramatically. Again, these thieves have no finesse, they totally destroy everything they touch, running the cost of repairs through the roof.

The new laws may help but what can the average person do to protect their property from these disgusting pieces of human debris?

Neighborhood watches can be useful, the more eyes and ears out there the better. Take license numbers of any suspicious cars that may be casing an area. Most of these thefts take place in the middle of the night. Perhaps a vandal proof camera would possibly deter or at least capture the thief's image for later prosecution. One farmer is so upset that he actually wanted to make the wires in his irrigation system "hot" so he would light up the thief. Unfortunately, there are laws against booby trapping your property.

In addition to a camera, perhaps a barking dog alarm would deter the would be thief. After all there really could be a vicious guard dog on duty. Be safe, not sorry.