If you’re building a home in the Bryan/College Station area, or anywhere in the United States for that matter, there are most likely an innumerable number of concerns providing stress for the said production. And though you might have thought up every last possible gimmick and fluke that could hinder the progress of your future home’s production, there’s at least one recent development which you have likely overlooked: copper theft.
That is correct. You might have thought that metal hasn’t been valuable enough to hijacking since the middle ages, when vagrants took to robbing steel from ancient monuments like the Coliseum. But in today’s world, with the rising costs of copper for its many uses, metal is back on the black market. Copper has become a major article for theft in recent years, and along with vacant buildings, sub-stations, and cell towers, construction sites are also a frequently targeted subject for the thievery of copper. And that includes your potential future home.
Copper’s rising popularity, apart from its artistic properties, is due mostly to its excellent performance as a conductor of electricity. With the consistent use of electricity in buildings throughout the nation, copper has become essentially ubiquitous. And with the widespread use of copper comes the increased value. And with increased value, copper has become a major target for theft. A recent estimation from the Electrical Safety Foundation International claims upwards of 50,000 copper thefts occur every year. And despite new laws making copper theft a felony in any state, the statistics are rising.
Considering all the fuss about copper theft, the value of copper theft is not surprisingly high. The average scrap metal dealer will buy about 40 pounds of copper for anywhere from $50-100. While that might seem hardly worth the hassle, 40 pounds is the average amount of copper wiring that can be removed from a commercial air-conditioning unit (the most popular target for copper theft). And as easy as it is to hack away to obtain $100 worth of copper, the cost for repairs can be in the tens of thousands of dollars. In fact, the theft of copper (which only recently was a minor nuisance for home builders and businesses) is quickly becoming a major issue, costing over a billion dollars of a year.
Major businesses throughout Texas are being continually plagued by copper thieves, who break into abandoned complexes or construction sites, ripping copper tubing out of commercial air-conditioning units. Multiple businesses are actually being targeted multiple times. And according to the US Department of Energy, the cost of repairing and replacing the theft of copper wires, pipes, cables, and gutters that are being torn from walls and buildings every year is steadily increasing.
Other popular marks for copper thieves are substations: units that provide expensive high-voltage transmission lines to homes all over the US. These are particularly attractive targets for copper thieves because of the high value equipment and the mass quantities of copper used to conduct electricity underground. Yet, the risk for thieves is actually life threatening. Should they sever the wrong cords or touch the wrong conductors, the amount of voltage they expose themselves to is assuredly fatal. And the costs of the mess resulting afterwards can cost over three times the cost of the actual equipment and copper stolen.
So, with copper thievery solidifying itself as an immediate and serious threat to home and business owners (as well as the government as a whole), it is important to know how to prevent these attacks: perhaps the most simple of which is to increase awareness of copper theft. If residents are aware of the threat of copper theft in neighborhoods where construction is active, they would be more prone to report any suspicious activity and catch the perpetrators in the act. Diligence in this area could save home builders and owners from thousands of dollars of repair costs.
Another important measure that co-ops have initiated is the growing use of copper-clad steel in replacing the vulnerable copper wiring. This type of wiring is perfectly capable of the same electricity efficiency as copper, but has a much lower scrap value. It is also just as malleable, but can’t be cut with normal tools (even hydraulic bolt cutters!). This new measure is providing a major deterrent for copper thefts.
While copper theft is a growing felony that is affecting homeowners across the globe, it will not endure for long so long as the appropriate measures are taken. If the cheaper, less susceptible wiring of copper-clad steel is used in greater abundance, and residents across the nation are made at least partially aware of the threat of copper theft, the appeal for such a dangerous, low-reward act of thievery would drop drastically. So if you are building a home in the College Station/Bryan area, or anywhere across the nation, it is important to take the appropriate measures in preventing the devastating effects of copper theft on your home.
PS – Susan Hilton is Bryan College Station, Texas’ real estate specialist in foreclosure sales and real estate agent career building so if you need help – CALL! 979-219-3970