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Copper Theft
Copper theft has gone from a minor problem to a major epidemic. The Federation supports legislation that would allow the courts to charge the offender the cost of repairing any damage to the victims' property caused during the theft of the scrap metal. The offender is already liable for the value of the transaction. This will increase the severity of the punishment.

Key Messages:
  • Copper theft from farmers' irrigation systems, poultry houses, barns and other buildings causes thousands of dollars in damage. Farmers not only must replace the copper, they often must repair extensive damage caused by the thieves.
  • Copper thieves are threatening U.S. critical infrastructure by targeting electrical sub-stations, cellular towers, telephone land lines, railroads, water wells, construction sites and vacant homes.
  • The theft of copper from these targets disrupts the flow of electricity, telecommunications, transportation, water supply, heating, security and emergency services and presents a risk to both public safety and national security.
Copper thieves are exploiting the high prices for scrap metal by stealing and selling the metal for high profits to recyclers across the United States.

Correlating Issues:
  • According to the U.S. Department of Energy, copper theft is a $1 billion a year industry.
  • The demand for copper from developing nations such as China and India is creating a robust international copper trade.
  • According to open-source reporting, on April 4, 2008, five tornado warning sirens in the Jackson, Mississippi area did not warn residents of an approaching tornado because copper thieves had stripped the sirens of copper wiring, thus rendering them inoperable.

Click here to download a PDF version of this Issue Card.

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