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Old 09-07-2012, 04:55 PM
 
Location: Swiftwater, PA
18,650 posts, read 16,216,336 times
Reputation: 14550

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Years ago crooks would break into you home, when you were not home, and steal your TV, silverware, guns and jewelry + any cash they found. Today's hot item is copper – your wiring, copper pipes and copper heating elements. While yesterday's crooks could damage your home; today's copper thieves are taking damage to another extreme. Besides the replacement value of the copper, the labor to replace it, water damage and sometimes motel/hotel accommodations until your home is livable again.

Very few of these crooks are caught and I have yet to hear of a scrap yard that takes the fall with the crook. I believe that my state of PA requires some paper work from the scrap yard on these copper transfers. I am curious what other states do and if others have the same problems.

I am also interested if any states have programs to thwart this kind of theft and if it works?
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Old 09-07-2012, 05:06 PM
 
9,092 posts, read 18,218,277 times
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this has been a pretty big issue out here for a while - in 2007 AZ put in the following laws
  • Anything over $300 is required to be paid by check, and the check has to be mailed to the person’s physical address.
  • You must have either a state issued driver's license, state issued ID, Tribal ID, Military ID, or passport to receive monies from scraps - address on ID will be used to mail out checks over $300.
  • Anything over $25 will require a finger print of the person claiming the scrap metal
  • Only one cash transaction allowed per day
  • No stripped copper and aluminum wire over 3/8" in diameter will be accepted from the general public
  • Businesses that want multiple people to cash in scrap metal must register each employee with the recycler
  • If a person dropping off scraps is in a company vehicle, the check will be sent to the company, not the person dropping the metal off
  • Aluminum cans and steel are excluded from these new law changes
  • You must be at least 16 years of age to recycle any material
It has helped to a degree - but there are still ways to get around it. A big issue (and one that will be even more impactful in places like PA where population centers are a little closer to borders) is how surrounding states deal with it as well.

I know for a while copper theives in AZ would just travel to other states and risk being caught

There are also other options to get these items to market - in my office building we had our backflow device stolen one weekend and the replacement damaged in an attempted theft the next weekend. Mini-fences have become a lot more popular.

I know a lot of contractors were having issues working at remote sites with temporary yards - it wasn't practical to keep security on site all night and weekends and the theives would hit them pretty hard
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Old 09-07-2012, 05:34 PM
 
Location: Swiftwater, PA
18,650 posts, read 16,216,336 times
Reputation: 14550
Quote:
Originally Posted by Finger Laker View Post
this has been a pretty big issue out here for a while - in 2007 AZ put in the following laws
  • Anything over $300 is required to be paid by check, and the check has to be mailed to the person’s physical address.
  • You must have either a state issued driver's license, state issued ID, Tribal ID, Military ID, or passport to receive monies from scraps - address on ID will be used to mail out checks over $300.
  • Anything over $25 will require a finger print of the person claiming the scrap metal
  • Only one cash transaction allowed per day
  • No stripped copper and aluminum wire over 3/8" in diameter will be accepted from the general public
  • Businesses that want multiple people to cash in scrap metal must register each employee with the recycler
  • If a person dropping off scraps is in a company vehicle, the check will be sent to the company, not the person dropping the metal off
  • Aluminum cans and steel are excluded from these new law changes
  • You must be at least 16 years of age to recycle any material
It has helped to a degree - but there are still ways to get around it. A big issue (and one that will be even more impactful in places like PA where population centers are a little closer to borders) is how surrounding states deal with it as well.

I know for a while copper theives in AZ would just travel to other states and risk being caught

There are also other options to get these items to market - in my office building we had our backflow device stolen one weekend and the replacement damaged in an attempted theft the next weekend. Mini-fences have become a lot more popular.

I know a lot of contractors were having issues working at remote sites with temporary yards - it wasn't practical to keep security on site all night and weekends and the theives would hit them pretty hard
I think that our contractors have always had problems – they have even lost heavy equipment. I don't know if the new tracking devices have helped?

As far as our plumbing or wiring being stolen: To me it seems almost as if our house would be raped. We work all of our lives for the American dream and somebody destroys it for a few dollars worth of scrap. It has not happened to us – but I read about in the local paper almost every other day.

Thanks for your information – I will press my legislators to adopt some of the provisions.
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Old 09-07-2012, 06:07 PM
 
Location: Out there somewhere...a traveling man.
42,787 posts, read 57,166,355 times
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They're stealing catalytic converters too, big time. Those are very expensive to replace, over $1,000.00.
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Old 09-07-2012, 06:19 PM
 
9,092 posts, read 18,218,277 times
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Tracking devices do help - they can be costly to implement and monitor though (for equipment, but that's a side issue). There has been a shift though, as the metal prices rise they focus of the theft shifts.

Copper is a big industry here in AZ (it's one of the "Five Cs" - Copper, Cattle, Cotton, Citrus & Climate) - the mines are active once again ..... however, there has definitely been a rash of theft

Here is what they just enacted in NC
ECT.coop Copper Theft Law Welcomed in N.C. » ECT.coop

CA just toughened their laws
PleasantonWeekly.com : New state law toughens penalties for copper thieves, buyers

Here is info on GA, WA, WV, IA & KY
Five New Copper Theft Bills Signed Into Law - Coop Law Blog

Many states are definitely starting to react

It helps a lot - but not a cure all

Another issue with the theft, is that it's sloppy - it can also be fairly dangerous ...... not uncommon for dopes to hurt themselves or others, create pollution spills, etc

As far as residential theft - out here a lot of it was with homes that are bank owned, vacant, etc. In active neighborhoods it wasn't as prevelant. They'd go more for commercial pieces - get more weight.
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Old 09-07-2012, 06:22 PM
 
9,092 posts, read 18,218,277 times
Reputation: 6953
Quote:
Originally Posted by nitram View Post
They're stealing catalytic converters too, big time. Those are very expensive to replace, over $1,000.00.
Yep - trucks are huge target of that - 3 were just arrested in Peoria for that
Trio arrested for stealing catalytic converters in Peoria | azfamily.com Phoenix

With our proximity to CA it's even more valuable as "after market" cats often aren't acceptable to passing CA emissions (and cars that are coded to CA may have the check engine light flick on failing you in other states unless you have the right part)
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Old 09-07-2012, 09:35 PM
 
Location: Swiftwater, PA
18,650 posts, read 16,216,336 times
Reputation: 14550
Quote:
Originally Posted by Finger Laker View Post
Yep - trucks are huge target of that - 3 were just arrested in Peoria for that
Trio arrested for stealing catalytic converters in Peoria | azfamily.com Phoenix

With our proximity to CA it's even more valuable as "after market" cats often aren't acceptable to passing CA emissions (and cars that are coded to CA may have the check engine light flick on failing you in other states unless you have the right part)
There is also one other possible way that the stolen copper is turned into cash. Is it possible that some of this copper tubing and wire is used directly by contractors that bill homeowners for new copper pipe or wire? I know that most of the crooks are not walking away with sixteen foot pipes. But not every pipe in an installation is sixteen foot long. It could be even a case that the stolen pipe or wire is used to replace the missing pipe or wire?

Just another thought on the problem. But, like you mentioned before, a neighboring state could also be a problem – if they don't have the same tough laws controlling their scrap. Unfortunately the weak economy and high metal prices are going to keep this problem around for a long time.

Ca emissions drive me nuts. I used to drive truck to CA. I would pass through the burn areas, the smog and the dust storms and then thru the artificial dust storms from the off road vehicles. I cannot fathom why they champion all the off road activity when it is so hard to breath!
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Old 09-08-2012, 01:35 AM
 
18,842 posts, read 35,637,884 times
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This is hardly new. In Las Vegas, the wiring was stolen all the time from street lights, so it was always dark where I lived. And thieves would go into empty homes, and strip out the wiring, leaving the bank with a home that needed to be completely re done before the sale.
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Old 09-08-2012, 04:30 AM
 
Location: Swiftwater, PA
18,650 posts, read 16,216,336 times
Reputation: 14550
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasper12 View Post
This is hardly new. In Las Vegas, the wiring was stolen all the time from street lights, so it was always dark where I lived. And thieves would go into empty homes, and strip out the wiring, leaving the bank with a home that needed to be completely re done before the sale.
I guess the question is if the problem is getting worse? Are the high prices for scrap metal driving demand?

But I was curious if the new laws in other states work? Has all the reporting and identification stopped the problem or just slowed it down? I live not too far from the border of NJ and NY. So I could understand still having problems - even if my own State had good laws.

Part of me also worries about what would happen if we could stop all of this overnight. Would the criminals switch over to home invasions? I am afraid that we have a section of society that are too used to making money the 'easy' way. Or; is it simply that we do not have enough jobs and people will do what they have to to survive?
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Old 09-08-2012, 05:27 AM
 
Location: Swiftwater, PA
18,650 posts, read 16,216,336 times
Reputation: 14550
jasper12,

Possibly you brought up another point. PA has had legalized gambling for four or five years. I have to wonder what connection this theft has to gambling? It cannot help the problem.
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