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Two Simple Steps to Reduce Rampant Copper Theft

As the price of copper reached historic highs over the past few years, so have incidences of copper theft at commercial and industrial properties.  Stealing copper wire, tubing or fittings for resale to recyclers has become a regular occurrence. Copper theft can also result in substantial damage to roofs, HVAC, sheetrock, ceiling tiles, electrical conduit boxes, and wall coverings while the copper is being removed.

To make matters worse, businesses sometimes discover after incurring a substantial loss that their insurance coverage may not reimburse them if their property has been vacant for more than 60 days. Even for occupied buildings, insurance policies may have a very narrow definition of what constitutes vandalism caused by the breaking in or exiting of burglars.  In addition, coverage limits on property damage resulting from theft may also result in a lower-than-expected reimbursement. 

Short of employing security guards 24/7, what can you do to reduce your risk?

According to HUB International Risk Services, the key to effective deterrence is to decrease the desirability of a potential target while at the same time creating an increased threat of discovery in a thief's mind. 

HUB recommends a simple, two step process to reduce the risk of your business being targeted for copper theft:

Marking, Warning & Notification

  • Mark by rubber stamp and/or stencil all pipes, coils and other copper components with a permanent ink to identify the property location. Simple language indicating: "STOLEN FROM < property # or address > if a rubber stamp or stencil is used.
  • Warn criminals by placing signs and placards on units and at roof access points indicating that security measures are in place.
  • Notify law enforcement and salvage yards. Send a letter to local law enforcement and all area salvage yards informing them of the identification measures implemented at your properties. Request salvage operators to notify your property manager and/or the local authorities immediately upon presentation of marked salvage materials that are not accompanied by a current original letter of contractor authorization and or bill of lading from the property manager.

Physical Barrier Guarding

  • Consider installing open square steel tubing or expanded metal mesh cages to harden the target.

These measures are relatively low cost, easy to implement and effective in deterring thieves.

For complete details on how to implement these steps to safeguard your property, download the HUB International complementary white paper:  Deterring Industrial and Commercial Copper Thefts.