new on the site. trying to research copper cable thefts. we are getting slammed here in Springfield,OH with all kinds of copper thefts. anyone has ideas, suggestions, or sites to research, let me know.
It has been an ongoing problem for years in the Dallas area. One of my first cases as a prosecutor was an appeal by a fellow who broke into a vacant building and stole the pipes and wire. Nowdays, everyone is putting metal cages over the air conditioners on commercial buildings to keep the copper insides from getting stolen. I even saw one of those on the air conditioner at a police department property room that was open 24-7. I know of a couple of shootings of people stealing copper, too.
I saw in your profile that you are a detective in Ohio.
I suggest you contact the railroads as copper theft has been plaguing the railroads for many years. Try the railroad police like Union Pacific and Southern Pacific. Crooks like to steal the copper signal wiring from railroad lines, and it is no new epidemic in Texas.
I read in the papers that catalytic converters are now targeted. The thieves prefer to remove them from SUVs because they don't have to jack them up to hack up the exhaust system. Apparently, the converters contain small quantities of metals that command high prices. Seems like an awful lot of trouble to me, but I recall that some of those converters are very expensive.
Catalytic converters use platinum to work their magic.
. Symbol Pt A silver-white metallic element occurring worldwide, usually mixed with other metals such as iridium, osmium, or nickel. It is ductile and malleable, does not oxidize in air, and is used as a catalyst and in electrical components, jewelry, dentistry, and electroplating. Atomic number 78; atomic weight 195.08; melting point 1,772�C; boiling point 3,827�C; specific gravity 21.45; valence 2, 3, 4. See Table at element.
2. A medium to light gray.
To which may be added: due to its value, a highly desirable element to an undesirable element of society.
[This message was edited by JAS on 02-08-07 at .]
The problem with copper theft is typically multi thousand dollar wiring jobs are ruined for several hundred dollars worth of copper. We could charge for the damage as criminal mischief and the theft so that later thefts are enhanceable. There is a bill pending before the legislature dramatically changing the regulations for buying and selling recycleable metal.
One of our great Investigators just brought us the goods to get 2 of our local copper thieves.
These two would steal the copper and melt it down in the garage, so the source material was impossible to find. (using the registers at the recycler).
He stood at the sidewalk and took photos of the open garage melting area, which showed several items that matched the thefts in the previous few days (In the pile that is about to be melted down). Used that to get a warrant that found some fairly unique copper welding leads that were not only the exact same gage and length of the leads that were stolen the night before.
The leads still have tool marks that are very like the marks on the remaining part of the leads at the crime scene.
This kind of investigation makes my job much easier.
Here is something that we did in Houston. Undercover police officers would go to scrap metal dealers posing as employees of an air conditioning company. They told the operators of several scrap metal places that they wanted to sell the coils from air conditioning units. But, they would ask if the dealer ever did business with the company that hey "purportedly" worked for. They didn't want someone from their company or thier boss to show up while they were trying to sell the coils. They made it clear that they were stealing the coils from their employer and wanted cash for the copper in the coils. All of this was recorded. They wouldn''t arrest anyone at that time but just sell them the coils. After they visited several places on more than one occassion each selling "stolen" coils to them the officers then met with me and I dreafted search warrants of each location for documentation of the purchase of the items. Texas law requires that they document the purchases. In every purchase, the owners of the scrpa metal dealership would fill out a receipt, as required by Texas law, but they put in phony names and dates, which we could substantiate from the taped recordings of the purchase.
On the day that they wanted to run the search warrants, we got a large spool with several thousands of dollars worth of copper. The officers would go to the first place, tell the people the spool was stolen, the owners would buy it anyway, and the officers would arrest them for felony theft based on the value of the large spool that they just "boguth". Then they ran the search warrant at the location for the records and other documents that I put in the warrant.
Besides making a few good cases, it also got some press and made scrap dealers a lot more cautious about buying copper.
When a material like copper suddenly increases in value, it becomes very tempting even for formerly legitimate businesses to resist the urge for quick profits. My best "markup" case is the guy who walked away from McCoy's Building Supply with two large spools of wire worth $1600 and drove a few blocks to the local scrap metal purchaser and sold them for about $400. I tend to believe the purchaser knew the story, considering the wire couldn't look much like scrap. I guess we need to try the Houston sting.
OK, so the Texas legislature has responded to this problem by passing HB 1766 making the theft of copper, bronze, or aluminum wiring a state jail felony at a minimum. Specifically, the enhancement applies to "insulated or noninsulated wire or cable that consists of at least 50 percent: (i) aluminum; (ii) bronze; or (iii) copper."
Question: How does the state prove the content of the wiring or cable is at least 50% of one of those metals? Does it require scientific analysis? If so, who does it? DPS is not currently equipped to do that type of analysis, but they could be -- the question is, do they need to be? If not DPS, who else could do it?
Chew on them, if they dent they are 50% or those materials or more. Why doesn't anyone think through these things enough to consider testing anf financing before the bill is passed. In the present presumption-happy legislative state of mind, how about a presumption that if it is stolen it is at least these minimum amounts.
I'm waiting for the theft by check case that includes a couple of dollars worth of speaker hook-up wire or an extension cord. A state jail felony.
Unless the proprietor is over 65 years of age.
Copper and Aluminum are elements.
Bronze is shorthand for "copper alloy" but is redundant in this case because any bronze or brass will itself be more than 50% Copper.
Also the 50% is vague... is it 50% by mass or by volume?
I can't help but imagine a man-sized bug light!
Austin Energy evaluating security after man burned in suspected copper theft
By Matt Presser
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Austin Energy is evaluating the security at its facilities after officials say a man was seriously burned while trying to steal copper wire from an East Austin electricity substation.
On Wednesday afternoon, the man received 80,000 volts of electricity while trying to steal some copper wiring inside Kingsbury substation near Airport Boulevard and Springdale Road, officials said. Power went out around 3:30 p.m. for 7,300 customers and was restored about 5:30 p.m. The man, who had burns over 100 percent of his body, was flown to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. Austin-Travis County EMS spokesman Warren Hassinger said the man was in "extremely critical" condition Thursday. His name has not been released.
Full story is here. (statesman.com)
Some homes worth less than their pipes
Thieves now stealing valuable metals from foreclosed homes
BROCKTON, Massachusetts - Shards of broken glass outside the basement window of 31 Vine Street hint at the destruction inside the three-story home.
Thieves smashed the window to break in and then gutted the property for its copper pipes � a crime that has spread across the United States as the economy slows and foreclosed homes stand empty and vulnerable.
"They cut it here and then pulled it right out of the wall," real estate broker Marc Charney said, pointing to broken plaster near a wrecked baseboard heating system in the 2,774-sq-ft home in Brockton, Massachusetts, a working-class city of 94,304 people.
Similar stories are unfolding nationwide as a glut of home foreclosures coincides with record highs in the price of copper and other metals.
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