How to Curtail Construction Site Theft & Theft of Copper

Construction site theft is a business and a national threat. Copper thieves are threatening US critical infrastructure by targeting electrical sub-stations, cellular towers, telephone land lines, railroads, water wells, construction sites, and vacant homes for lucrative profits. The theft of copper from these targets disrupts the flow of electricity, telecommunications, transportation, water supply, heating, and security and emergency services and presents a risk to both public safety and national security.

Wherever there is metal—copper in particular but also aluminum, zinc, nickel and bronze—there is someone stealing metal to sell it for a little cash to support themselves or their drug habit.

Theft of copper pipes, tubing, and wiring has been on the rise in recent years due to the increased value for scrap copper. There have been numerous reports of air conditioners, valued at over $3,000, completely destroyed for no more than $25 worth of copper. The theft of copper is a growing problem across Mississippi. Lawmakers thought they passed a bill that would be a deterrent.

Deterring the theft of copper and other metal is a work in progress. Diligent policing helps. Since thieves generally sell their loot to scrap dealers, it also helps that the law in Chattanooga, and in many other jurisdictions, requires dealers to see an ID and get the thumbprint of a seller and record the tag number, make and model of their vehicle.

A person commits the offense of theft of copper if the person commits theft of copper that weighs a pound or more, but not including legal tender of the United States.

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Several states have enacted laws in the past few years to combat the theft of copper and catalytic converters. Theft of copper is a class C felony. Some cities have taken particularly strong measures. Over the past several months, there have been several reports of burglaries, thefts and criminal mischief involving the theft of copper wiring. Right now, anybody can present copper at the scrap yard, sell it, get cash, go do whatever they want to do. No metal is sacred: Cemetery memorials are snatched, and so are the roofs of churches.

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