07/23/12 — Copper thefts still on rise in county

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Copper thefts still on rise in county

By John Joyce
Published in News on July 23, 2012 1:46 PM

They come across a new case nearly every day -- an air conditioner or vacant house stripped of its copper parts; a home or business owner left to absorb thousands of dollars in damages.

But as thefts of copper coils and tubing continue to increase in number across Wayne County, local lawmen are tracking the incidents -- and trying to unwrap just how to stop those responsible for them.

Copper is currently trading on the commodities market for $3.44 per pound, making the sale of the relatively inexpensive metal potentially profitable for those who take the time to strip it from unknowing victims -- Goldsboro Metal Recycling, 801 N. John St., purchases copper for anywhere between $2.50 to $2.70 a pound and Foss Recycling in LaGrange pays up to $2.84 per pound.

So when 20 feet of copper was allegedly stolen from a vacant rental property Tuesday, the person who took it and likely sold it shortly after committing the crime saw a more than $70 pay day.

But members of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office are not convinced that the metal is being sold locally.

Det. Richard Farfour said most of the scrap yards and recycling centers in the area know and obey the laws prohibiting the purchase of a/c coils and caches of copper exceeding 25 pounds.

"Even transporting more than that much copper on state highways is illegal," he said.

In fact, if lawmen are notified by a scrap yard, or if a vehicle is stopped while in possession of that much copper, it's an automatic seizure and a $50 fine.

But having an idea of where the copper is being sold is not enough to stop the crimes from occurring, Farfour added.

A resolution will only begin to surface when people start reporting suspicious activity happening around them.

"The real issue is people telling their neighbors after the fact that they saw someone strange in their back yard," Farfour said. "Watch each others houses when you go out of town. Don't call each other when you see something going on. Call 911 when you see it."

If not, copper thieves will undoubtedly continue to leave home and business owners coping with thousands of dollars in damages to their property while they leave out-of-county scrap yards with some quick cash.