Impact of the Copper Theft Crisis

Dustin Smith
October 26, 2023

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that copper theft costs U.S. businesses around $1 billion a year!

Analysts identified 33,775 insurance claims for the theft of copper, bronze, brass or aluminum—32,568 of them (96 percent) for copper alone.
Copper theft can lead to utility downtime, closed businesses, delayed construction deadlines, and public safety risks.

Impact of copper theft on the construction industry:

Copper building wire is a prime target for thieves because of its increasing value as scrap. When copper wiring is stolen from a new construction, the replacement cost of the wire is only the tip of the iceberg. There are other factors to consider: production delays and lost time for the builder, repairs to circuit components and sheet rock, replacement of appliances and luminaires caused by damage, the cost of private security and an increased risk of fire hazards.
Whether via outright theft of complete circuits by skilled thieves or pilferage via liberal end-cutting by third-party installers, many job sites experience some degree of copper theft.  It is estimated that as high as 8% of the copper wiring in new construction is lost to copper theft and pilferage. This would amount to enough copper building wire for 112,000 homes (15.7 million pounds of copper)!
With so much at stake, many builders and electrical contractors are exploring their options to reduce theft incentives.
If you ever doubted that copper theft is a major issue, below are dozens of copper theft articles that confirm the crisis:
Kingston police say four people responsible for theft of $150,000 in copper wire

Copper theft leaves units at Las Vegas apartment complex without power for second time

Barefoot thief, 1 other steal reels of copper wire from Riverside business

Man arrested after stealing copper from Hot Springs non-profit

Franklin construction site theft; Chicago men accused, stealing copper

Copper theft leaves several NW side businesses without power

Thieves steal $43K in copper from Spring Garden St. construction site

Deputies arrest 2 for copper theft from gas station in Dallas County, Mo.

Police arrest 3 people for alleged copper theft from storm damaged shopping center

Help ID a man suspected of stealing $4,000 in copper wiring near Strafford

Wiring Woes: Escalating copper theft in Southwest Missouri

Thieves on the run after stealing thousands of dollars worth of copper wiring from Lincoln County wastewater treatment plant

AT&T offering $5,000 reward in information over copper wire thefts in Jefferson County

Thieves steal nearly $30K worth of copper from Houston business

Copper wire thefts are on the rise in San Joaquin County

Burned man found hanging from electric tower stealing wire

Desert Hot Springs man accused of having approximately 900 ft of cable stolen from windmills

Bucks County Man Charged with Causing More Than $1.5 Million in Damage to Decommissioned Power Plants Across Philadelphia Region by Stealing Copper Wire to Sell for Scrap

Copper thefts impacting Austin Energy

Copper wire theft on the rise in Austin

Rise in copper theft affecting service, Austin Energy says

Sunflower County Man Arrested for Copper Wire Theft

Copper wire theft led to streetlight outage near crash that left Las Vegas girl dead, city says

PNM warns New Mexicans about copper wire theft

Rampant copper thefts slow street light repairs in St. Paul

Thieves pull off state's largest copper heist

Copper wire stolen from streetlights

Man says removal of live copper wire wasn’t theft

Copper theft halts 911 access in Woodinville as concerns mount for public safety

Man dies in Pine Bluff after possible copper theft

Copper theft at RFD Theatre

$200K Of Stolen Copper Still Missing as Judge Slashes Alleged Thief’s Bail

Wire thefts in St. Paul making streets dark at night

Man caught on camera stealing copper wire in northeast Lincoln

Man arrested for copper wire theft

Thieves Climb on School Rooftop, Steal Copper Wiring

Copper thieves leaving communities in the dark

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