Copper is like a gold mine for thieves because it has a fairly high resale value — up to $4 a pound for scrap copper at salvage yards — and is hard to trace, reports the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. Hard times make a bad situation worse. Thieves stole about 100 feet of copper from behind a local restaurant this month. “We lost business for two days,” said restaurant owner Steven Wong.
Thieves target schools, churches, nonprofits, homes, foreclosed and abandoned houses, construction sites, and gas wells. They take copper from air-conditioning units, street lights and bronze vases on gravestones. They even steal manhole covers. Then they head to scrap yards to sell the metal. A 2007 Texas law was supposed to help put the thieves out of business. It requires all scrap metal businesses to register with the state and report purchases. Only 870 of the 2,400 metal recyclers have registered, and only about 430 have reported transactions the past year.