Value of copper increases, becomes target for thieves

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by Eric Kane, 13News

WVEC.com

Posted on January 22, 2013 at 7:20 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 22 at 7:21 PM

NORFOLK-- As the value of copper keeps rising, it is becoming a target for thieves.

Bernard Hartwig found that out when he returned home last month to find someone ripping off the copper water spouts from his Ghent home.

"I know it happens, but it's been a pretty safe neighborhood, so it never crossed my mind," said Hartwig.

Copper's value by pound ranges depending on the grade, but can be worth over $3.

There has been a reported increase in similar thefts throughout Norfolk, as the value makes copper gutters and water spouts an easy target.

"It looks like the burden should be on the scrap-yards to keep up with the people bringing in daily loads of copper," said Hartwig, and Virginia lawmakers agree.

A bill is currently being considered in the General Assembly that would put tighter restrictions on scrap metal processors.

Doug Moses is the owner of Dubin Metals, Inc. in Norfolk.  He provided recommendations for the legislation.

"We wanted to try to make a fair playing field for all of the scrap processors within the state," said Moses.

Dubin Metals already photographs and documents every copper proprietary item they receive, like copper gutters and water spouts.

“The material is then held at the scrap metal processor for 15 days to give law enforcement a chance to come by and see if it is stolen."

Hartwig says he's replacing his water spouts with a galvanized metal that has a similar copper look, but it's worth next to nothing.

Law enforcement advise all neighbors to stay vigilant, and report any suspicious activity to the police.

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