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Posts tagged: stealing copper wire

Copper Wire Being Stolen and People Are Actually Dying

People are stealing copper wire like actual dollar bills lying on the ground but they’re starting to get caught more and more. This news show discusses the amount of people stealing copper wire in order to turn it into cash at a local metals scrap yard.

They researched it and found that it’s costing tax payers over $50,000 per year to replace the amount of copper wire that’s being stolen. The problem is that the stolen electrical wire will be scrapped for about 1/5 the replacement cost for the company or person that needs to buy it and install it all over again. So for every $100 stolen it costs %500 to replace.

Copper items currently being stolen include copper roofs, copper wire from businesses, copper wire and piping from local homes, outdoor wiring along the side of buildings and even copper scrap piles businesses hold on to in order to legally scrap for cash themselves.

Even the uneducated folks are attempting to cut into live wires and being electrocuted to death. That creates an even bigger problem for the business because it shorts the connection which means it will cost an arm and a leg to replace the electrical unit and wiring that was damaged in the process plus the installation costs to do so.

This could be the cause of the 2011 economy, because of all the Americans without jobs, or it could simply be money hungry people looking for the quick buck. Either way businesses and police are cracking down on these wire and cable thieves with video surveillence and news castings to display those who were caught in the act.

Hopefully this will make the copper crooks think twice before attempting their next “job”. In the video it says that copper scrap yards are paying up to $1.15/lb for copper scrap but that’s quite low. Copper is currently at $4.00 per pound and scrap yards offer about 75% which gives them roughly $3.00 per pound of copper wire.

We know this as a wire and cable distributor because we actually have scrap yards knocking on our door for the waste that we incur each month. With all the short lengths, scraped insulation and accidents that happen with our wire and cable we end up having a large scrap pile each month.

Maybe it’s the uneducated people taking whatever they can get for it as quick as possible. It seems that once it’s out of their hands and melted down at the scrap yard there isn’t much anyone can do unless there’s a video of them stealing it.

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Save Your Romex Wire!

I’m sure most electrical contractors know about the fluctuation of copper pricing in the last few years which means they understand they need to keep all excess copper wire to scrap later on. Copper has been as low as .86 per pound and as high as 4.10 per pound so the stock market slogan “buy low, sell high” comes into play here.

Sometimes electrical contractors tell the homeowner to find the wire and cable they need on their own to save a few dollars on the cost of the installation. However, they may not know that they can sell the unused wire to a scrap yard for cash. You can call them and ask what the current copper price is and they’ll give you a little bit less than what you might see on the NYSE. Then they melt down the copper and sell it to copper wire manufacturers to make a profit.

Currently copper is about 3.30 per pound so if you have 50 ft of Romex 6/3 then you can probably get about $55.00. Romex 6 awg 3 conductor weighs about .357/foot and you can get about 3.00 per pound right now. So it adds up quicker than you think.

Be careful of those copper thieves out there though! We have another blog post with a video showing all the people stealing copper wire to scrap it for cash. They’re stealing it from live connections (some are getting electrocuted) and anywhere else they can find it because it’s worth so much right now and it’s so easy to scrap for cash.