Metal Theft Prevention
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Protect Your Business From Scrap Metal Theft

Metal theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country. Copper, aluminum, nickel, stainless steel and scrap iron have become the desired target of thieves looking to make a quick buck. An increase in demand for these metals from Asian markets such as China and India has created a thriving international scrap trade, resulting in much higher prices. 

Of particular concern is copper, which is found in gutters, flashings, downspouts, water lines and electrical wiring – all of which can be quickly stripped from vacant buildings, industrial facilities, commercial buildings and construction sites. Air conditioning units are especially attractive, and are often tampered with or stolen for their copper coils and pipes that connect to HVAC systems. The metal is then sold to recycling companies and scrap yards for a nice profit. 

A painful lesson for businesses

Wily thieves use a variety of methods to locate and steal metals. Some pose as renovation contractors while stripping copper from vacant homes. Others use a buddy method for stealing empty, stainless steel beer kegs, with one person driving a getaway truck and the other grabbing the kegs. A few resourceful criminals have used Google Earth to identify large amounts of metal (such as spools of wire) stored outdoors.

For businesses that run the risk of metal theft from a construction site, or transport metal or items containing metal to a job site or customer, an inland marine policy is essential for additional protection.

Preventing metal theft

To combat metal theft, more and more states and municipalities have passed laws tightening the restrictions on scrap dealers. In some instances, purchases of scrap metal are required to be held in reserve for a week or more before being resold in case they have been stolen. In other instances, states require dealers to record the seller’s name, address and driver's license. 

The best defense is to prevent metal theft at the source. Consider these measures to reduce your risk:

Also change some of your policies and procedures and:

If a metal theft does occur, call the police immediately so that local recyclers and scrap dealers are alerted. Be sure to preserve the crime scene, including tire tracks, shoe tracks and fingerprints. This evidence could be used to help prosecute the thieves if they are caught.

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