In the last year, a worldwide surge in demand for copper, largely from construction booms in China and India, has more than doubled its value, says the New York Times. Cities like Pittsburgh are reporting an increasint theft problem. Some news reports have documented thefts of copper wire from streetlights, electrical substations, and cellphone towers, but most of it is taken from abandoned homes or homes under construction, usually by drug addicts looking for quick cash. About 250 Pittsburgh copper thefts have been reported in the last year, compared with perhaps a dozen last year. Police Sgt. Kevin Gasiorowski of the burglary squad said the problem is “not going to go away till the price goes down.”
“The industry takes this very seriously,” said Bryan McGannon of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, based in Washington, D.C., with membership of more than 1,400 dealers who own more than 3,000 scrap yards. “But scrap dealers have a difficult situation on their hands: legitimate scrap material and stolen material looks identical.” The institute has joined with the National Crime Prevention Council to spread information about specific thefts in a campaign that will use the McGruff the Crime Dog logo.