Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Copper thefts spreading throughout the region

By Simona Vogel

Big prices for recycled metal is causing big headaches for some Athens County residents and businesses. The price for copper has nearly tripled in the last four years to about $3 per pound, and with the price hike, the number of copper thefts in and around Athens has increased dramatically. From telephone lines in rural areas to construction sites in the city, thieves are cashing in on other people's copper.

Residents of Chauncey suffered the consequences of the latest copper theft in the region. Thieves cut a telephone line to get to the copper wire. This not only cut residential phone service, but also affected local stores that accept credit cards and need phone lines for approvals. And this was the second phone wire theft in Chauncey in two weeks.

But copper thefts are not limited to the rural area of Athens County. Big construction sites in the city like at Kroger's on East State Street are also a target.

A few months ago thieves stole a copper spool plus various other metals and construction supplies from Kroger. Construction director Opha Lawson says that the stolen materials were worth around nine-thousand dollars, but the thieves will get much less cash for them. However the cost to Kroger is much more when you add in the construction delays caused by the theft.

The copper thieves are not the only ones the police are going after. Investigations also are targeting scrap dealers who don't record large copper deliveries or don't care if they're stolen metal.

And Ohio lawmakers are talking about how to enforce existing legislation that requires mandatory registration of copper and other metals.

Police are offering a reward for information about copper thefts in the region or businesses buying large amounts of suspected stolen copper.

Crime Solvers Anonymous takes your calls Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. or you can leave a message after hours at (740) 594-3331.

Related Links:
AEP Ohio warns about dangers of copper thefts
Metal Prices

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