A single penny may be worth only 1 cent, but put enough of them together and their copper content can fetch between $3 and $4 a pound - which is enough to entice thieves to steal copper in every possible form, says OneBeacon Insurance Group.
“The New York Commodity Exchange (COMEX) reports that the price of copper pipe and tubing has risen by more than 250 percent in the last three years,” said Charlie Sidoti, vice president of risk control services for OneBeacon Insurance Group. “And research by the International Copper Study Group indicates that prices are rising in large part because of the demand for raw material. Thieves steal copper pipe and tubing and resell it to certain salvage yards that readily accept the scrap with no questions asked.”
According to Sidoti, thieves look for copper almost everywhere, including commercial facilities, homes, and construction sites. As HVAC contractors know, they’re looking for the copper coils from air conditioning units, as well as wiring and piping in unsecured buildings and homes, and new wiring, piping, and equipment awaiting installation at construction sites.
To protect this valuable resource, OneBeacon urges contractors and property owners to minimize the risk of theft by:
- Arranging for local law enforcement to drive by job sites
- Meeting with construction crew management to
review procedures for securing materials and equipment.
- Arranging just-in-time delivery of copper
materials, components, and equipment; and avoiding storage of large quantities
on-site or in warehouses.
- Storing larger quantities of copper materials in
secured buildings, storage containers, or wire cages.
- Developing and using an effective inventory
management system to identify, measure, and track copper materials and parts,
and marking them with the company logo.
- Recording the serial numbers of equipment that
contains copper components.
- When using trucks/trailers for on-site storage, securing them with King Pin locks and limiting access to the keys.