When you think of valuable metals and resources, you probably think of gold, silver, and diamonds. And while they are valuable, their rarity makes them understandably hard to find. At the other end of the spectrum is iron and steel, which are common building materials and therefore not particularly valuable.
Occupying the sweet spot between value and rarity is copper. The distinctive reddish-brown metal is highly conductive, lightweight, and malleable, making it an ideal choice for many components in appliances and electronics. As the price of copper rises, copper thieves have become more and more of a problem for construction sites and property owners.
So, why are copper thieves so common? Where can they find copper on your property? And what options do you have to stop copper theft? Creative Security has the answers.
Why Do Thieves Steal Copper?
Thieves steal copper because of its high scrap metal value. Copper is many times more valuable than other common or relatively common construction materials, and there is enough of it in construction sites and in unoccupied properties for it to be worth scavenging for.
There are multiple reasons why copper’s scrap price has soared. Rapidly developing countries like China are demanding more and more copper, for instance, which increases its sale value. But regardless of the reasons why, it’s undeniable that copper is a valuable commodity. Per COMEX, the primary futures and options market for copper and other trading metals, copper’s price per pound eclipsed $4 per pound for the first time in about a decade and for only the second time in history.
In addition to copper’s high price, the scrap metal market is a perfect place for thieves to make money because they can sell copper scrap metal for cash, avoiding a damning paper trail and making it nearly impossible for law enforcement to track stolen copper.
Where Can Thieves Find Copper?
Copper’s value comes from its relative rarity, yes, but it also comes from its usefulness. It’s used in a wide variety of ways and in a wide variety of products. Generally speaking, most copper is used in one of three ways:
- Copper wiring
- Copper tubing
- Copper pipes
As to where these types of copper components can be found, well, the answer is wide-ranging. Copper can be found in the following items and more:
- Air conditioners and HVAC units
- Phone and electric lines
- Other utility lines
- TVs, computers, and electrics
- Transformers and electric components
And, of course, if you store bare copper wiring rolls in your jobsite, those rolls are an easy target for thieves.
Damage to Your Business
It would be one thing if the copper stolen by thieves was easily accessible and therefore easily replaceable. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Copper isn’t just a part of wiring, for instance; rather, copper is the wiring, and stolen or stripped copper wiring simply results in the destruction of that wiring.
And since copper is used as a component within appliances and electronics, those appliances and electronics must be disassembled and therefore destroyed to access the copper within. Thieves only care about the copper, and not the functionality of what they are ruining on the way there. A transformer can contain up to 50 pounds of copper, representing about $200 worth of scrap metal for the thief—but can cost tens of thousands of dollars in replacement and repair costs.
In other words, copper thieves aren’t merely stealing copper: copper thieves are destroying your property or worksite, wrecking not only specific appliances and items but potentially entire electrical infrastructures and/or HVAC systems.
How You Can Stop Copper Thieves
With most copper theft occurring on unoccupied constructed sites or vacant commercial properties at night, it may seem like a daunting task to reduce the chance that you succumb to copper theft. However, there are ways that you can protect your jobsite or vacant building, from guard services and security systems to cautionary steps at your jobsite.
Obscure Your Copper
The simplest thing that you can do to avoid copper theft is to try and prevent intruders from realizing that there’s copper to be stolen or to prevent them from finding the copper at your property. To do so:
- Never leave copper rolls visible or unattended at a worksite
- Paint copper components black to give them the appearance of plastic
- Hide wiring, appliances, or electronics as best you can
Security systems are a great way to protect your worksite or property from would-be vandals and thieves. A particularly great solution is the wireless video verification security system. These systems are easily installed and leased, allowing you to avoid a large upfront cost but maintain flexibility at your worksite or property. Best of all, these systems provide video verification, an important component in calling the police to your property.
Thieves target unoccupied worksites and properties to steal copper. Security guards can patrol your worksite during and even after your workers are doing their jobs. These trained professionals have the knowledge to spot thieves and can quickly call police to your property in the case of a break-in or emergency.
Conduct Your Work in Confidence With Creative Security
No matter what size of jobsite you’re overseeing or how many unoccupied units you have to keep track of, Creative Security can help. From security systems to guard services and beyond, we have the security solutions you need for your property. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help protect you from copper thieves.