Surging metal prices are pushing a spree in metal thefts, including catalytic converters that are cut out of cars and sold for up to $100 to recyclers. The Christian Science Monitor says filchers are lifting everything from copper wiring to aluminum beer kegs to the brass flower holders at cemeteries. The more audacious are sawing down live electric poles and ripping siding off strangers’ homes.
The reason: International demand, especially from China’s factories, has sent metal prices soaring, say experts. China is stringing power and telephone lines into its western interior, while the growing ranks of Asia’s middle class clamor for modern housing and cars – all of which require lots of metal. Prices are high for copper, stainless steel, aluminum, and three metals found in catalytic converters: platinum, palladium, and rhodium.