Call Northside 777: AT&T Chases Copper Crime

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Non-ferrous Metals

Due to our extensive coverage on hot metals and copper crimes, our readers are no strangers to the seedy underside of the scrap metal community. We wrote a detailed post on red metal crimes this April, and earlier this summer, we quoted an HVAC repairman who noted that copper thefts in Chicago are currently at their highest. As metals prices rise, the number of metals thefts follows suit, and the government is never entirely sure how to respond. Some new scrap metal laws are hurting pawn shop owners. Other states plan to enact new rules on scrap metal sales and transportation in 2009, nipping hot metals crimes in the bud. But the problem is beginning to escape the government’s hands and escalate to new heights, to the point that companies have decided to take action.

In the words of Twisted Sister, AT&T “ain’t gonna take it” anymore. They have experienced more than enough metals thefts during the past year as individuals cut and steal telephone wires across California and other states. The company is reacting with a statewide bounty to catch some thieves.

“Stopping copper cable theft has always been a priority, but now AT&T is stepping up its efforts,” Bill Chubb, AT&T vice president of core installation and maintenance, told the media. “We’re hoping a reward of up to $10,000 will motivate anyone with information to come forward. We intend to cooperate with law enforcement to make sure those responsible are apprehended and prosecuted.”

Scrap copper sold for about $1 per pound in 2004, but can now earn upwards of $3 per pound. Since January 2007, the price has risen more than 60 percent, and U.S. copper futures settled at a two-week high yesterday. Stealing copper from AT&T may bring a few extra dollars for thieves, but they can endanger entire communities.

“Besides the added cost to do business because of the loss of materials and expense of added repairs, utility copper thefts often disrupt service to customers including access to emergency services,” one newspaper reported earlier this week.

If you have information that could lead to the arrest and conviction of California copper thieves, you can find yourself $10,000 richer by calling AT&T at 800-807-4205.

–Amy Edwards

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