Copper Theft on the Rise

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As a construction worker prepares to lay wire at a new home site, thieves may be eyeing the spool of wire, not for the wire as a whole, just for the copper inside.

"What they typically do is they'll take that spool and they'll burn the coating off or strip it off and then they'll cut it into two-feet sections and then they'll take that and barrel to a scrap yard and then they'll sell it that way," explained Tom Traxler, a former plumbing contractor and Florida State University's plumber.

Tallahassee police say copper theft has been on the rise in the capital city for the past six weeks.

"Salvage yards and people that recycle copper are paying a lot of money for it right now, and because the price of copper has gone up, people are stealing it," said SGT Dave Ferrell of the Tallahassee Police Department.

Police officers say construction sites are often targets for thieves looking to steal copper and other scrap metal that can be recycled or resold. Officers say they highly recommend that construction companies secure their copper parts, pipes and wiring before they pack up their construction sites at night.

"And put up ‘no trespassing’ signs. It's a felony to trespass on a construction site and we need those signs put up," added SGT Ferrell.

Copper can be found in air conditioner units, in wiring and in plumbing pipes, which makes them all susceptible to copper theft. The copper theft we reported on Saturday happened at a business that carries copper based wiring and products.