Boy, were we wrong.
These days, copper theft is a bigger problem than ever, affecting every state and almost every community. Hardly a day goes by without police reports of some type of metal thefts from local residences and businesses, and for the communications and construction industries, it is a huge drain on resources. ...
Some of thefts also create public safety issues, interrupting 911 calls and other emergency communication.
But often the biggest cost of metal thefts is in the damage done. ...
Unfortunately, the culprits are not thinking about that. Cases show that some are stealing to support drug habits, but others just see dollar signs. ...
That is why lawmakers and law enforcement need to turn up the heat, especially on the point of sale. The most effective investigations involve special task forces and sting operations focused on scrap yards. But that is expensive police work, and adding restrictions to the sales makes sense, too.
California, Georgia and Oregon now require people selling certain copper items to be photographed, have their driver’s license copied and wait a few days for payment. South Carolina recently added a step for those selling metals to obtain a fee permit from their local sheriff, and Kentucky now prohibits the sales, buying or selling of metals that have been smelted, burned or melted.
A coalition of construction and trade organizations also is asking for congressional action that could help with interstate rings and dealers.
Hopefully some of these new strategies will work.