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Copper Thieves Jeopardize US Infrastructure

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the reloaders-all-well-aware dept.

Networking 578

coondoggie supplies an excerpt from Network World that might make you consider a lock for your pipes: "The FBI today ratcheted up the clamor to do something more substantive about the monumental growth of copper theft in the US. In a report issued today the FBI said the rising theft of the metal is threatening the critical infrastructure by targeting electrical substations, cellular towers, telephone land lines, railroads, water wells, construction sites, and vacant homes for lucrative profits. Copper thefts from these targets have increased since 2006; and they are currently disrupting the flow of electricity, telecommunications, transportation, water supply, heating, and security and emergency services, and present a risk to both public safety and national security." (A July, 2006 post on Ethan Zuckerman's blog gives an idea of how widespread cable theft has affected internet infrastructure, and basketmaking, in Africa.)

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Special license... (4, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979649)

maybe make it where local, private people can't sell copper to recyclers?

If you had to be an official 'something' or licensed...that would stop a lot of criminals I'd think?

Great idea...but I have a better one! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25979667)

Bid on this... [ebay.com]

MOD PARENT UP!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25979969)

This is in fact an awesome idea.

Re:Great idea...but I have a better one! (2, Informative)

Somegeek (624100) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980191)

ignore parent, some guy spamming a lame ebay auction, nothing to do with article.

Re:Special license... (4, Interesting)

tripdizzle (1386273) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979693)

This is something that has been going on for a while, and recyclers know stolen copper when they see it and buy it anyway because its cheap. I dont think licensing sellers would cut down on the theft, it may just create the licensed seller as a middleman for the exchange.

Re:Special license... (0, Flamebait)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979703)

Maybe it's time to consider copper theft an act of terrorism?

At least in the cases when infrastructure is threatened.

Re:Special license... (5, Insightful)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979819)

Kinda hard to insinuate that a theft of materials for purely financial gain is somehow intended to strike fear into the hearts of the populace.

Or are you just following the knee-jerk reaction to label "anything sufficiently disliked" as "terrorism"?

Re:Special license... (4, Insightful)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980055)

Theft of materials might not be terrorism, but destruction of infrastructures to get said materials should at least be labeled vandalism.

Re:Special license... (2, Insightful)

urbanriot (924981) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979825)

Yes, I agree with you completely. We need a new subsection of theft involving critical infrastructure, instead of the silly sub-$1000 slap on the wrist fines.

Re:Special license... (5, Insightful)

rhsanborn (773855) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980097)

I think there is a common sentiment to apply terrorism laws to things that aren't terrorism. This isn't terrorism and shouldn't be punished as such. If society wants to seriously punish people who intentionally dismantle infrastructure, than harsher laws need to be passed to that effect.

Re:Special license... (4, Insightful)

glock22ownr (734154) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980101)

That is a very broad definition of infrastrucure... and terrorism... if you hit a stop sign or a power line because you lost control of your car are you a terrorist? You affected "critical" infrastructure... We must be very carefull with this whole "call everything terrorism" thing. I think we are at critical mass with the current state of affairs. Our government has done a wonderfull job scaring personal freedoms out of us. Sure stealing copper and knocking out 911 service or power to an area is a deplorable act but not one of terrorism. The current tendency to call everything terrorism is very dangerous...

Re:Special license... (1)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979733)

many places require a contractors license or business license but it's a matter of corruption and greed. Someone walks up to you with salvaged copper and claims they pulled it from a ware house on there property what will you do. Plus it's not hard to melt the copper down and sell it in block form.

Re:Special license... (1)

RogerWilco (99615) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979735)

They would just send it abroad of find someone who is willing to ingore the rules for a cut of the profits.

These kinds of crimes are very hard to stop. I don't know a good way to do it.

Re:Special license... (5, Funny)

EvilRyry (1025309) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979787)

So if I replace the pipes in my house I need a license to recycle them?

Maybe if you needed a license to post on Slashdot, there would be less stupid comments.

Re:Special license... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25979901)

I'd love to get a license to post on Slashdot, using this account. It would even work as a driver's license in Liberia!

Re:Special license... (5, Funny)

ablizz (47709) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980293)

fewer stupid comments

Government regulation is NOT the answer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25979859)

MOD DOWN.

Re:Special license... (3, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980047)

...and while you're at it, let's just expand the idea to suggest you must bear the mark of the beast before you should be allowed to buy or sell anything.

Re:Special license... (5, Interesting)

raymansean (1115689) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980061)

My dad is a licensed HVAC contractor the way the laws are written in this state, if he does not have an invoice for every atom of cooper on his truck he can be charged with cooper theft. I hardly think that such a law is a solution. If we attempted to solve the problem, people who have nothing better to do than steal cooper to get their next fix. Then we would not have to have such stupid laws. No I do not have a solution, but making my father have a invoice for all the cooper on his truck is silly. The problem with being a licensed something or another is that it is easy to forge such documents. Unless there was a nationwide database of licensed somethigns or anothers, but then you get into the issue of privacy. You can have maximum freedom or maximum security but you can not have both, and any attempt to have more of one will result in you having less of the other. So be careful what you want in the terms of security without looking at what you will need give up in the means of freedom.

Re:Special license... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25980133)

What is this "cooper [wikipedia.org] " you keep referring to, and what kind of atoms is it made of?

Re:Special license... (2, Funny)

Ender Wiggin 77 (865636) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980263)

"...if he does not have an invoice for every atom of cooper on his truck he can be charged with cooper theft. "

I think he means D.B. Cooper theft.

Re:Special license... (-1, Flamebait)

Korexz (915405) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980343)

Mexican's won't get a drivers license... do you think they will get a scrappers license? I'm going to say NO.

Some Darwin awars ready and waiting (4, Funny)

hairykrishna (740240) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979659)

My housemate works in an accident and emergency operating theater. They had some guy in the other night who was stealing copper from a substation. His tools of choice? Axe and a kitchen knife with an uninsulated handle. Apparently he looked a bit like a pretzel.

Re:Some Darwin awars ready and waiting (1)

yakmans_dad (1144003) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979845)

Last summer a thief, looking for copper, just bowled over a transformer around the corner with his car. A huge flash, a muffled *whump*, and then pitch darkness. All the neighbors met out in the street in pajammas wondering what the hell had happened. There was no thunderstorm. It wasn't particularly hot. It took a half hour for the electric company to react and get a truck on site and we were all pretty POed. It turns out that the effort had been part of a genuine conspiracy: someone else across town had done the same thing around the same time.

We never heard about the fate of the perps. A squirrel had arced a transformer in the neighborhood around 20 years before and turned into a frizzled squirrel-like sculpture.

Plumbing out of house stolen (5, Interesting)

SpuriousLogic (1183411) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979661)

A friend's parents had passed away, and the house was up for sale. She went over to just do a checkup and noticed it was very cold in the house, however the thermostat was set to 50 (house has radiators). She also noticed no water coming form the faucet. She went into the basement - someone had broken in through a window well and cut out every single pipe in the basement. All the plumbing for the radiators and water supply were all gone.

Re:Plumbing out of house stolen (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25980233)

Had some friends in a landscaping, odd jobs business where they were knocking down an old building and trying to save what was worth scraping for the owner to offset costs of a new building somewhat.

So they had some scrapers come by while they were knocking down a section of the building, who started picking up stuff from their scrap pile and throwing it on their truck. When they were asked what they thought they were doing (getting caught), they unloaded the stuff and had a laugh about it saying they'd just be back later.

So the guys knocking the place down parked their back-hoe across the only real entrance to the place and parked other machinery on top of the scrap piles. When they came in the next day, the windows were broken out of their equipment and someone had shit in the cabs of the equipment.

Guys are akin to organized crime in some areas, they work in little teams and do that kinda stuff if you stop them from taking what they think is theirs.

Re:Plumbing out of house stolen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25980285)

50 degrees isn't cold? Do you live in Greenland???

3rd world nation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25979669)

US has now entered 3rd world nation status. Where individuals are so poor that ripping up and selling the vital infrastructure becomes a useful business.

This is due to the difference in income status between the rich and the poor in the US. The rich need the valuable infrastructure. The poor just need to live.

Re:3rd world nation (2, Insightful)

tripdizzle (1386273) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979773)

I love it when AC's run around insulting countries. These aren't poor and homeless people stealing copper, these are career criminals or bored teens and twenty-somethings just looking for some extra money and something to do.

Re:3rd world nation (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979781)

This is due to the difference in income status between the rich and the poor in the US. The rich need the valuable infrastructure. The poor just need to live.

      Absolute rubbish. The US is far from the Paris depicted in "Les Miserables", where the poor have to steal to live. These people are doing it because they think it will put them on the fast track to make them rich. Having an LCD television or supporting a drug habit is not "needing to live".

      To think I almost cried at the plight of the "poor" in America after reading your post. NOT. I live in the REAL 3rd world, and I see REAL poverty every day.

I might buy your story in South Africa (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979931)

where there is approx 40% unemployment, but not in USA where being poor means not having the latest Nikes.

In South Africa, copper is stolen on a massive scale, helped by the many black outs. When lack outs are scheduld the copper thieves can even plan their activities.

Re:I might buy your story in New Jersey (4, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980093)

My dad worked at an RCA location in scenic Gibbsboro, New Jersey in the 70's. They made television transmitter antennas there, and decided to put up a chain link fence around the place. One weekend, the fence was stolen.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, someone stole a security fence.

Tony Soprano bought his kids Nikes with that. Except, in my neck of the woods, the family was called "Forte."

Re:I might buy your story in South Africa (1, Redundant)

mewshi_nya (1394329) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980185)

You honestly think that, in america, being poor means you don't have luxuries?

Try not having water, electricty, food, heat, or half-decent clothes. THAT'S the *higher* end of being poor in this country.

Re:3rd world nation (2, Informative)

couchslug (175151) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980069)

"US has now entered 3rd world nation status. Where individuals are so poor that ripping up and selling the vital infrastructure becomes a useful business."

Copper is easy to harvest and pays well when scrapped. Scrapping metal generally has been profitable in recent years, and that has everything to do with developing nations like China BUYING scrap as opposed to any US decline.
Aluminum gets less press but also pays well, often ten or twelve bucks per automobile wheel.

It happens everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25979671)

It's a huge problem in the mining industry as well. Cables that cost thousands of dollars are stolen, stripped, and sold to recycling centers.

Unsuprising (0, Flamebait)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979677)

The fucked up political-economic system gives them a motive. Everything else is inevitable from that point.

Re:Unsuprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25979769)

Yeah, that totally makes it acceptable practice. Lets blame all misbehavior on economy and politics. I guess we know which side of the political spectrum you live on.

Unsuprising-Slippery Slope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25979885)

Why not? We blame the existence of Piratebay on big companies. What's one more excuse on the road to hell?

Re:Unsuprising (1)

jaguth (1067484) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979811)

The fucked up METH-economic system gives them a motive.

There, fixed that for ya.

Re:Unsuprising (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25980067)

I'm sorry, but how the fuck is this flamebait? This seems very apt, as this is what is causing an increase in this theft. People are starting to lose their jobs and money in all sorts of ways. Desperate people do desperate things. For those living in the fantasy land of never having to be poor for nearly their whole life growing up, I could well imagine they'd take offense to this.

The reality is, this is exactly why this theft is taking place.

Re:Unsuprising (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980345)

In a third-world country? I can see some sympathy, sure, and complaints about the system. In America? What "fucked up" system are you talking about? The one that didn't give them all the big-screen TVs and pimped out sportscars that they wanted? Those copper thieves are worthless scum who destroy things of value for their own gain.

Don't Pay Cash (5, Insightful)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979723)

This is a huge problem here in Vancouver, Canada. One solution that has been bandied around is requiring the scrap dealers to not pay cash - i.e. if you have copper to sell you get a receipt from the scrap dealer, provide your name & address and in 30 days the dealer mails you a cheque. As most junkies don't have addresses, nor are they prepared to wait 30 days, they'll stop selling copper. The legitimate sellers don't mind waiting 30 days.

Re:Don't Pay Cash (2, Interesting)

VEGETA_GT (255721) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980207)

actuality Vancover island Rogers internet lines where taken out 2 times because of this. Theafs got into a manhole and just grabbed wire. fiber line came to so Vancover island lost all internet from Rogers. 6 months later SAME exact thing happened. And yes there are redundant lines but that one spot is the OLNY place the lines are in the same place, crossing. Know the tech who got called out

Re:Don't Pay Cash (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980227)

Scrap yards here (in Michigan) check id and print you a check before you walk out the door.

Not as strong as requiring a mailing address, but less of pain.

Re:Don't Pay Cash (3, Insightful)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980299)

Whiel a system liek that would work to an extent. It really just creates a market for a middle man who will buy the copper off of the junkies.

This Criminal Has Jeapadized MORE Infrastructure (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25979725)

Read more about the world's MOST dangerous person [whitehouse.org] .

Cordially,
Kilgore Trout

I learned this in high school: (1, Offtopic)

rehtonAesoohC (954490) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979789)

If it's not whitehouse.GOV, then DON'T CLICK IT!

Old News. (5, Interesting)

FrameRotBlues (1082971) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979729)

Old news. Price of scrap has bottomed out in the past few months. Most scrapyards around here won't even cut a check if you bring in less than $10 worth of scrap... which is a lot of copper these days.

As an anecdote, there was a construction site we were working on where the plumbers painted all the copper pipes black, to make them look like steel pipes, to thwart would-be thieves during construction where access to the building is very easy.

Re:Old News. (1)

tsstahl (812393) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980287)

Instead of offering a 'me-too' common sense post, I'll instead say MOD PARENT UP. The recession (butnotreallyarecessionbecausesomemadeupstatisticwedreamedupsaysso) has largely corrected the copper thievery problem.

Re:Old News. (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980291)

Old news. Price of scrap has bottomed out in the past few months.

The root word of news is new, therefore this isn't news at all. It would have been news a few months back, but the media was too busy covering the high price of gas to cover this story.

Commodities prices overall have gone down due to the recession. Over the summer I used to go for evening walks and pick up any aluminum cans I found along the way. I could sell them for over $0.70/lb around here. I figured that came to $0.02/can. Now the price of aluminum has dropped to about $0.20/lb. It's not worth going out into the cold for that.

Fiber Optics... (1)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979753)

...everywhere. On the chip level, even, like that prototype I saw a while back.

Muhuhahahahaha! And then, I, Electro-light-monster-villian, will finally complete my diabolical plan!

problem solved? (4, Informative)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979755)

This is one problem I figured the current administration had fixed.
http://www.kitcometals.com/charts/copper_historical_large.html#6months [kitcometals.com]
Tank the housing market, and copper isn't needed, the price falls, not worth steeling.
But thieves are apparently slow learners.

High Voltage (4, Funny)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979759)

Just charge up _all_ the copper to at least 50KV. Copper theft will become self-punishing. However, taking a shower will get quite risky.

Tragic... (5, Interesting)

stei7766 (1359091) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979799)

When I was stationed in Balad, Iraq I volunteered at the base hospital. We mostly just helped unload the choppers and what not, sometimes walk around and chat with the patients. Balad was the biggest hospital in theatre so the worst cases eventually made their way there for stabilization before being sent to Germany or sent home (in the case of Iraqis).

Anyways, I must have seen one or two patients a week come in with severe electrical burns from trying to steal copper wire, most of the time it was kids.

So its not ALWAYS some idiot out to make a quick buck...people can just get desperate.

Re:Tragic... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25979923)

Being a kid or poor doesn't exempt them from being idiots.

Re:Tragic... (1, Troll)

mewshi_nya (1394329) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980259)

Oh, right, because wanting to eat that night is so fucking stupid...

EVERYBODY PANIC! (0, Offtopic)

rehtonAesoohC (954490) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979813)

First it's Bittorrent. Now it's copper thieves...

What's next, Zebras?!

Re:EVERYBODY PANIC! (2, Funny)

BigJClark (1226554) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980063)


Unicorn bones. Veeerrrry rare, Veeerrrrry expensive...

Re:EVERYBODY PANIC! (1)

Somegeek (624100) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980337)

Unicorn bones are going to destroy the internet infrastructure?

Do they set off chain reaction explosions in the tubes or something?

Re:EVERYBODY PANIC! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25980143)

If a zebra got a chance, he'd slit your throat! We must preemptively strike now! To begin with, we must de-stripe all zebras, which will demoralize them and make them think they are just funny looking horses.

aluminum (4, Interesting)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979827)

thieves have been stealing the aluminum guard rails, hand rails and brackets off of bridges and overpasses here. Apparently they grab them one or two at a time, and it takes a week or two before they've removed enough that someone notices the missing rails. The aluminum has been found at scrap dealers, cut up into small enough pieces so it's not (easily) identifiable as it's original form.

Re:aluminum (3, Insightful)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980363)

Now, if they only worked that hard at a real job.

Anonymous Coward (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25979831)

The price of copper has tanked along with the rest of the world economy. It is now down to around $1.50/lb. The article would have been more timely 6 months ago.

http://www.metalprices.com/FreeSite/metals/cu/cu.asp

Re:Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25980171)

Still hasn't stopped these people. Two weeks ago the wiring for the lights, at the park, where all our youth soccer teams practice was stolen. Obviously not a critical infastructure item, but the thieves made, maybe, 50 dollars and disrupted the season for 500-600 kids. Nice.

Surely it should praised! (-1, Troll)

fantomas (94850) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979835)

Surely it should be praised? In the Land of the Free, The Invisible Hand of the Market combined with little peskie commie social security is driving people to use their own initiative and make money out of valuable resources. Don't tell me you want interfering government legislation to slow down this market invention?

...somewhere I can hear a Native American Indian muttering "buddy, what's a few kilometres of copper? These guys stole a whole country not so long ago" :-)

Re:Surely it should praised! (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980003)

Native American Indian muttering "buddy, what's a few kilometres of copper?

Well Native Americans ARE American, so chances are slim to none that they'd be speaking in metric, much less using the metres spelling instead of meters :).

That aside though, the Native Americans are one of countless groups in the past who got thrown off of land by another force. It's happened so many times over throughout history that I fail to even see why so much special attention is attributed there.

And this post is brought to you by a 1/8th Cherokee (though I figure I'm still a lot more white than native american) American citizen.

Re:Surely it should praised! (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980235)

The basic premise of Capitalism is that if you have some resources, some capital, if you will (like, say, US dollars, or copper pipes) you get to keep them and invest them in something which will (hopefully) bring you something of value in the future (like, say, a small business, or stock of a big business, or the warmth/comfort/enjoyment of your home). The ability to gain rewards from this is what drives investment, and ideally leads to prosperity and a better world. As opposed to theft, which leads to reluctance of investment (why build something if thieves will wreck it?), waste (at a minimum, of the labor for installation/deinstallation of pipes), destruction of value, and misery.

So, you could theoretically be more wrong, but it would take a good chunk of effort.

A fair exchange (3, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979849)

The utter selfishness of what the thieves do is mind-boggling.

I'm not entirely against trading their haul of copper for a small quantity of lead.

Copper price dropping... (1)

sdguero (1112795) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979851)

The price of copper went to unprecedented levels recently (upwards of $4 a pound) and that drove a lot of the theft. In that last few months prices have returned to normal, and I would expect to see theft decrease as well. Of course with the economy tanking, and more jobless, the theft reduction from lower prices may be offset.

http://www.bloggingstocks.com/2008/12/03/freeport-suspends-dividend-cuts-production-on-lower-demand-pri/ [bloggingstocks.com]

A day late. (1)

canuck08 (1421409) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979853)

Someone missed the boat here. The price of copper has collapsed from $4/lb to $1.65/lb over the last three months or so. This problem will go away overnight.

How much social security do people get paid? (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980011)

As long as its more profitable and accessible than the other job / social security alternatives then I reckon people will keep doing it.

Building sites with lots of copper + access to a vehicle = easy money. How long does it take to lift 100lb of copper into a vehicle? Less than an hour I'd say. So even at 1 dollar / lb it's looking attractive. For some folk, 100 dollars for an hour's work is nice money...

Re:How much social security do people get paid? (1)

Woldry (928749) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980175)

There's an easy solution, then. Make the minimum wage higher than $100 an hour!

Problem solved. ;-)

capitalism at work (4, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979907)

Hey, this is the free market at work! Why is everyone upset about this? If it wasn't for government regulation we wouldn't have this problem! And now our godless heathen communist government wants to arrest people for simply trying to put those goods back into production? How shameful -- these "criminals" are really the unsung heroes of these regulated markets.

.

.
warning: contains sarcasm.

Re:capitalism at work (4, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980137)

Most notions of a "Free Market" assume some sort of, oh, how do you call it, property rights and continuity of ownership, a basic hallmark of organized societies. You are confusing capitalism and the free market with Total Anarchy.

In fact, the basic premise of Capitalism is that if you have some resources, some capital, if you will (like, say, US dollars, or copper pipes) you get to keep them and invest them in something which will (hopefully) bring you something of value in the future (like, say, a small business, or stock of a big business, or the warmth/comfort/enjoyment of your home).

Been going on a long time. (2, Interesting)

VisualD (1144679) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979913)

Guy I know at work in the UK used to work installing cables for new power stations back in the 70's. Tells a great story about a cable they were installing underground to link the turbine hall with the substation.

This cable was about 2 feet diameter and a couple of hundred metres long, and was installed with 2 or 3 meter tails sticking out at either end. Night after the cable was installed, they all came back and cut the tails about a meter below ground level, pulled the rest and made a VERY tidy sum selling it to a scrapyard. 3 months later when the station is due to be connected, guys turn up to wire the tails and find the cable missing. Hilarity ensues.

The death penalty would stem this nonsense (1, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979947)

Imposition of the death penalty to those caught red-handed would do a lot in stemming the theft of copper in our critical infrastructure.

I second this approach if it can be proven that lives of law abiding Americans were put in danger at any moment during or after the theft.

This approach works in China so I believe it would do likewise in these United States of America.

Re:The death penalty would stem this nonsense (1)

aardwolf64 (160070) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980085)

Yes, we in the US should strive to be just like China. Or not...

A non-issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25979955)

A quick glance shows that copper prices have plummeted around 60% over the past 6 months. I'm by no means an expert, but it looks to me like copper has had it's 'bubble', and will now go back to being a normal commodity. The days when stealing copper was profitable are over for the time being.

Some areas have solved this issue (2, Informative)

Psyberian (240815) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979985)

A number of companies here in the US pacific northwest put names or serial numbers on their copper they put in place. So when the thieves show up to collect they give a call to the company listed to ask if it is on the up and up.

Then of course there are the brainiacs that broke into a power substation to steal copper. They took out their bolt cutters, and BAM, power out for a few blocks and more person up for a darwin award.

They're terrorists, plain & simple (-1, Redundant)

BigGar' (411008) | more than 5 years ago | (#25979989)

Charge these guys as terrorists. They are performing acts of sabotage which undermines the security of the nation & peoples trust in the government.

Re:They're terrorists, plain & simple (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980139)

CThey are performing acts of sabotage which undermines the security of the nation & peoples trust in the government.

True, but unless the main purpose of their activity is to cause terror, they technically aren't 'terrorists'. I'm pretty sure sabotage is illegal already (at least it should be), and I know theft is. We don't need to change any laws to prosecute them.

Re:They're terrorists, plain & simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25980217)

A simple answer: Go fuck yourself. Terrorists? Really? So you're saying they're doing this to scare the populace into some form of thinking or to change their ways? You're a god damned idiot.

Seriously, an IDIOT. I don't care if this comes off as flamebait. Calling a spade a spade.

just went through it (5, Interesting)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980007)

I just went through a process of buying a house. I limited myself to $50k cash total with the intent of doing most of the repairs myself. This limited me to HUD and foreclosures. One thing that was a common denominator of all houses listed by HUD was every piece of copper; AC unit, water heater, pipes, fixtures, and electric wires, were completely striped. I was amazed at the efficiency of many of the robberies. Only a few had holes punched randomly in the walls like someone searching for cable and pipes. The vast majority looked as if someone took the time to walk through the house with a metal detector and surgically removed everything. It made me wonder if someone did just watch for houses to hit the HUD list then rob them.

Re:just went through it (1)

tsstahl (812393) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980369)

It made me wonder if someone did just watch for houses to hit the HUD list then rob them.

Yes, yes they do. What is better than a precompiled list of residences where you KNOW nobody will be laying in wait with a shotgun or dog.

That is why I insist on living on streets that begin with the letter Z and numbered in the high nines. I'll let you know when I find that place and keep assuming they'll start at the top of the list. :o

just (1)

overcaffein8d (1101951) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980033)

just don't use a lock made of copper!

No copper at my place (2, Interesting)

aardwolf64 (160070) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980037)

I just moved into a brand new house last month I had built for me. The pipes in the wall aren't copper... they're PVC, with some kind of transparent rubber tubes connecting them to the fixtures.

Re:No copper at my place (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980279)

So they will just rip everything out of the walls hoping to find copper and leave it in a pile in the middle of each room......

Re:No copper at my place (2, Informative)

Korexz (915405) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980323)

It's called PEX. Its been used in the UK for years. US home builders finally realized it is cheaper, but still not up to code in some areas.

Crazy Peopl (1)

MrMunkey (1039894) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980049)

At my last job, we had two occurrences of copper theft. The first was some people took some extra pipes on the outside of the building. A few weeks later someone tried to take another pipe, but that was the water main. Nobody was caught, but we didn't have water that day. Everyone had to go across the street to use a restroom, and it just had to be the day I had a nasty hangover and I was really thirsty.

Ignorant thieves ... (3, Informative)

Piranhaa (672441) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980091)

We need more incidents like these [edmontonsun.com] .

The site was clearly labeled with electrical warning signs, yet the idiot still went ahead with attempting to steal the wiring. Long story short, he probably will pay a little more attention to signs...

As Drug War Esculates So Does Copper Theft (1)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980105)

Nothing new about people stealing copper and other metals.

Heck, I recall back 20 years ago reading an article in my local small city newspaper about a guy being electrocuted trying to take down a seemingly abandoned looking powerline in a deeply wooded area that turned out to be live; the ultimate punishment for theft.

The drug war has continued to esculate, and is the main driving force, made worse by the economic downturn, for the increase in such metal thefts.

Decriminalizing / legalizing drugs, along with medical treatment would go a long way towards reducing the despiration tactics many drug addicts resort to for their next "high".

On a related topic, I live near Philadelphia - it's been widely in the news lately that city is going to cut 11 libraries and close most all of the swimming pools for a total combined savings of several million...

And yet, at the same time, it appears they continue to fight the drug war along with most all other cities at ever increasing expense; often little to no discussion of cutting jails and prisons - often the exact opposite, even in the bad economic times.

Rambling on, but again, in the view of many, the drug war is the driving force for much of the property crime, such as metal theft.

Ron

Copper price (1)

rronda (1139207) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980243)

Copper price might have something to do with the increase in theft. It was about 4$/LB from Dec 2005 to Sept 2008. Now is only 1.5 $/LB. Of course the profit for the thieves is still 100% but they get less money for the same risk.

you have sit on scrap dealers (3, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980251)

that's the choke point

you're not going to stop heroin junkies, you're not going to secure theft sites

scrap dealers need to be bound up in red tape, and then scrap dealers who skirt the ordinances must be dealt with harshly. you don't have to worry about international or interstate transport, as you are going to destroy your profit margin on what usually amounts to less than $100 for a lot of heavy metal, and you are not usually dealing with criminal masterminds here who would exert the effort. nor do they have the resources to melt it down themselves

the scrap dealer is the point at which illegal goods get turned into legal goods and profit. scrap dealers therefore are going to have to be tied up in laws and regulations in order to stop this trade, and watched like hawks. chain of custody regulations must be put in place: if you use a bunch of metal, you have to produce paperwork detaling where it came from

Most copper thieves are illegal immigrants (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25980271)

Most of the copper thieves here in Southern California are illegal immigrants. They steal copper because they can make lots of money without requiring any work permits.

New laws are coming into effect that will require thumb prints from all copper sellers; however, I worry what effect this will have on the illegal immigrant population, many of whom rely upon selling copper to make ends meet.

basketweaver bailouts (1)

heroine (1220) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980273)

Imagine if US's government was in charge of Africa. Here come the basketweaver bailouts & the copper czars.

It ain't worth that much! (1)

qoncept (599709) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980277)

Fucking lowlifes. We are finally buckling and renting out the house we haven't been able to sell in Montgomery, Alabama (1000 miles from where we live now) partly because the extra mortgage is hurting, but the fact that there is so much crime in Montgomery and we have no one guarding our copper is honestly the biggest problem in my mind. People break in, do many thousands worth of dollars of damage to make a couple hundred bucks, and in turn buy drugs to make themselves even more worthless.

In Soviet Russia... (1)

Helge9210 (759666) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980307)

Copper theft in Soviet Russia (well, actually, also in Ukraine and Belarus) made neighbour Estonia major exporter of color metals back in 90.

copper theives should read the papers (1)

museumpeace (735109) | more than 5 years ago | (#25980357)

the recession just knocked the bottom out from under the copper market. copper stocks, mining companies and futures are all way down lately and so bad they made the news today. [marketwatch.com]
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