Understanding the Rise in Copper Theft

Understanding the Rise in Copper Theft

The number of incidents involving the theft of copper is increasing. Copper is used in wiring, but is also frequently used in plumbing applications, so chances are that you have copper somewhere in your home. If you’ve had your copper pipes or wiring stolen, there’s nothing left to do but call a professional plumber in Baltimore to have it replaced and to repair the damage. You may wonder why just a few years ago copper theft had been unheard of, but today it is very common. Here are several reasons for the recent trend.

Rise in Value

Copper is a metallic element that naturally occurs in the earth, and while there is only so much of it, it is very plentiful and has never been very expensive. Recently copper prices have risen dramatically. The reasons for the price increase are many and impossible to completely understand, but they may have something to do with China’s high demand for copper, which is used to improve infrastructure, Wall Street trends of purchasing copper ETFs and ETNs, and supply scares in Chile (a major exporter of copper). The value of scrap metal per pound is currently above four US dollars, so it is more appealing than ever to become a copper thief.


Because copper is used for plumbing and electrical infrastructure, it is often located in areas with little protection from theft. For example, some homes or buildings have copper tubing in crawl spaces that are easily accessible from outside. Also, public infrastructure like street lamps can provide access to hundreds of feet of copper wire, and all a thief needs is to saw their way into it and pull it away.


Copper is easily available to thieves because of its wide range of uses. Copper wires and pipes run through walls, and even outdoor air conditioning units have copper components. Breaking into a single home can provide thieves with access to dozens of pounds of copper, and breaking into a single business can mean hundreds of dollars’ worth of copper.


Perhaps the biggest advantage for thieves in stealing copper is that even with the increase in incidence, most people don’t expect it. Homes and businesses are smart enough to place cash, jewelry, and other valuables in safe places, but similar precautions aren’t taken to protect their copper. There are ways to deter copper theft, such as painting copper pipes black to appear like plastic, locking up access to any crawl spaces where copper pipes are located, or installing a protective fence around any outdoor air conditioning units. Unfortunately if you do not take these steps, thieves will have plenty of reasons to get their hands on your copper.


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