Metal: A Magnet for Thieves

On my way to work, I used to drive past an open lot which contained a large pile of construction debris – mostly broken pieces of concrete and bricks.  And sitting in front of that pile of debris was a very large sign advising “THEIVES NOT WELCOME!”  Childishly handwritten and misspelled, it did not appear very threatening.  In fact, with no obvious signs of security around the property, it seemed more likely to invite a curious thief to see if there might be something of value hidden in that pile.

The past few years, rising prices for metals, especially copper, have created a major problem for property owners.  Pipes, wires, and cables are being torn from walls and buildings, and roof-top air conditioners are being stripped of their coils.  Crimes like this can cause hardship and damage to the property owner that far exceeds the actual cost of the stolen metal.

Since thieves generally look for easier targets where they have less chance of being caught, here are some simple things you can do to discourage them:

  • Spray paint the copper tubing on your air conditioning unit with a fluorescent orange or green paint.  Copper is worth less with paint on it and most thieves will not want to make the effort to clean it off.   It can also help identify materials if they turn up later.
  • Shrubbery may provide limited hiding of your air conditioning unit, but it also provides cover for thieves, so remove or trim shrubbery from around the unit.
  • Install or improve the lighting around your air conditioner units.
  • Engrave the property address onto your air conditioner unit or generating equipment in various places.
  • Remove ladders, trees, scaffolding, and other props that would provide access to buildings and roofs.
  • Install a security camera and place signs around to indicate the presence of surveillance or security systems.
  • Store all valuable metals inside a locked building.  Scrap metals are just as valuable and enticing to a thief as new copper piping and wiring.

Contact your insurance agent to make certain your property is covered for theft.  Your agent may also have suggestions for how you can further protect your property from copper and metal thieves. Do you have any suggestions for protecting your property?  Please share them here!

7 Comments on “Metal: A Magnet for Thieves

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