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Copper theft: A problem of epidemic proportions

August 9, 2010

The deepening recession coupled with skyrocketing precious metal prices is resulting in more people turning to copper theft. Pipes, copper roofing, and utility company wire is being stolen in greater and greater amounts and then brought in to metal recyling centers.

Large utility companies such as AEP are  viewed as “soft targets” and  fall prey to this type of theft.  The  end result? Thieves are getting killed, power is being disrupted, and the associated repair costs are ultimately hurting the consumer.

AEP has written up media releases and made efforts to increase public awareness of the problem, but in my opinion, needs to become more proactive.  There needs to be more colaboration with the metal recycling centers as well as active investigation of the thefts.  Law enforcement does what it can, but rural sheriff departments and police departments don’t have the resources to make this problem a primary focus in addition to their other responsibilities.

I believe that the answer lies in using private investigators to address the problem.  Copper theft costs lives, disrupts service, and increases utility company expenses.  The few hundred dollars a thief makes off with in stolen wire results in thousands of dollars of replacement cost.  These expenses are ultimately transferred over to consumers, many of whom are already suffering from utility bill increases.

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