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May 12

The increasing problem of copper theft in Missouri

Common Crime with a Statewide Impact

The increasing problem of copper theft in Missouri

 

(St. Charles, MO) – Urban, suburban and rural areas of Missouri are different in many ways but there is one trend growing in all of them: the rise of copper theft.

While copper theft may not sound like the most interesting topic to learn about, it has a direct impact on you and your community.

Whether it’s from construction sites or commercial property or even from homes, thieves are taking bolder risks to get their hands on the copper in your home. That gets sold to recyclers who are trying to keep up with an increasing demand for the material.

AT&T Missouri President Jon Sondag says that increasing demand for copper is driving up the market price and that creates an environment that tempts those who need quick cash.

MWSnap034“We are reaching all time highs [of copper prices] and so it’s more lucrative for people to steal copper, in whatever form it is, and to resell that to support whatever they’d like to support.”

And it can impact your family’s safety.

Thieves have been known to cut down communication lines to make off with copper and that can take down your internet and phone connection. That cuts you off from the emergency service providers just down the street.

Sondag explains what could happen if thieves hit communication lines in critical places.

“It’s not just your communication, but it cuts off communication to public safety. Your 9-1-1 will not work, so people that have a need to call are going to be at risk because they can’t contact the 9-1-1 dispatch.”

It can also bring the local store’s ability to process credit/debit card purchases, hurting the local economy.

AT&T, along with other businesses, is working with law enforcement in hopes of stopping the problem. AT&T, in fact, has a standing offer of up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of copper thieves.

That’s in addition to improving the real time technology that monitors both the communication lines and the areas where copper is stored.

Sergeant Jason Clark from the Missouri State Highway Patrol warns everyone, business owner and home owner, to take precautions.

MWSnap035“With this economy and the price of scrap metal, anything that’s metal can be scrapped and, really, if it’s not locked up or something like that then there’s a good chance it’s going to be taken.”

Clark works with the Patrol’s Rural Crimes Unit. He says, while all parts of the state are impacted by copper theft, rural areas are often particularly vulnerable because it’s easier to drive to businesses, homes and construction sites without being seen.

On the web:

AT&T: www.ATT.com

Missouri State Highway Patrol: www. http://www.mshp.dps.missouri.gov/MSHPWeb/Root/index.html

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