Police say copper theft is on the rise, hurting local businesses - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Police say copper theft is on the rise, hurting local businesses

SHERMAN, TX -- With copper value at an all-time high, Sherman police say they've seen more cases of theft. And local business owners say they're suffering.

Police say this type of theft isn't just subject to businesses, many involve personal property such as housing additions. And they say crooks hit the same area two or three times.

"It happens to you and it'll happen to anybody,” said Brett Pierce, owner of Action Plumbing., “especially out in the country because there's nobody around."

Police say construction sites are at risk, especially when copper piping and electrical wires are exposed.

"People will come in and cut that out of there and take it out,” said Sgt. D.M. Hampton, “and then go either burn the plastic off the copper wiring or actually strip it off to get to the copper itself."

Crooks steal copper and other metals then try to turn a quick buck at local scrap yards. Police say in recent cases, criminals have earned up to $3 or $4 per pound of material.

"Scrap metal is at an all-time high,” said Sgt. Hampton, “as far as people trying to recycle and things and so when somebody comes in and steals the metal it's 100% pure profit."

Police say they work closely with yard owners, identifying anyone coming to sell material. While it's relatively easy to identify stolen metal, by that time the damage is done. 

"It's happened to us before, yes,” said Pierce. “It's tremendous. You get a house prepared and then somebody comes in and takes it all away."

Plumbers say the issue has left their businesses hurting, losing thousands of dollars each hit. Pierce, like many companies in the area, says now he avoids copper altogether, switching to a plastic based material.

"They can't sell it for any worth at all," he said.

They say criminals often stake out properties under construction, looking for abandoned areas.

"I see people's homes around that are for sale,” he said. “You need to make sure your yard stays mowed and that the newspapers keep picked up. Stuff like that so people can't just notice that nothing's going on around there."

The key to avoiding copper theft on your property is to take care of your home. If you're going to be away for an extended time, Pierce says you should have a friend or neighbor watch the area.