Copper thefts are up again in our region. Police say three men were arrested earlier this month for attempting to take copper from an abandoned factory in Johnson City.
It happens every time the market prices of the metal increases, and the prices for copper and other scrap metals (not to mention for gold and silver) are at all-time highs.
Some thieves are so keen on stealing copper they risk electrocution to get at it. It’s become such a problem that public awareness campaigns have been launched to warn people of the danger that goes with trying to steal a few feet of copper wire.
The rise in world copper prices have left builders and homeowners feeling the financial impact of thieves, who are stripping homes and air conditioners of copper wiring and tubing. Builders say they lose tens of thousands of dollars every year from metal theft.
That’s one of the reasons the Tennessee General Assembly passed a new law in 2008 requiring scrap metal dealers to register with the state Department of Commerce and to stiffen the fines of those convicted of stealing copper and other precious metals.
Under the act, scrap metal dealers may not buy or otherwise acquire precious metals from anyone who does not present a valid state or federally issued photo ID and may not sell to anyone under 18.
We know times are tough, but stealing copper is no way to make a living.