St. Louis, Mo., Sept. 8, 2011 – Copper theft is a serious problem for homeowners and businesses, but there are things people can do to reduce their vulnerability to thieves, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises.
At a “copper summit” in March, St. Louis police estimated that copper worth $4.6 million had been removed from St. Louis homes and businesses since the beginning of 2010, based on reports of 3,485 burglaries and thefts. Authorities have sought to fight the trend by requiring scrap dealers to get the names and addresses of people selling scrap and to require that any amount over $500 be mailed to the recipient.
This summer, air conditioning units have been a popular target because of the amount of copper they may contain. Copper gutters, downspouts and water pipes often are stolen, too. The problem extends to St. Louis suburbs in Missouri and Illinois.
“Soaring commodity prices have made stealing and selling scrap profitable,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB president and CEO. “No one can stop a determined thief, but there are things consumers and businesses can do to make their property less attractive to criminals.”
The BBB offers the following tips to avoid being victimized:
- Secure items if possible. Keep items thieves could pilfer inside. For larger targets, like air conditioning units, keep the area fenced in and lock any gates.
- Make it difficult for thieves. Move dumpsters and ladders away from buildings to make it harder for thieves to reach rooftop refrigeration units. Clear brush around ground-level air conditioning equipment so others can spot people attempting to work around the unit or destroying it.
- Invest in security. Add continuous or motion-sensing outdoor lighting around air conditioning units. Businesses should try to have someone on site at night or install video cameras to watch for thieves.
- Start a neighborhood watch. Get to know your neighbors and ask them to help keep watch. Never assume the person working on the neighbor’s air conditioner or gutters is a repairman. Check with the neighbors, then call the police.
- Mark materials. If materials are stolen, the best chance of identifying them is to make them stand out from other similar material that might come to a recycler legitimately. Marking items with bright paint, and etching an identification number at various places can make the items more difficult to sell.
The Better Business Bureau has more consumer tips and BBB Business Reviews
. Consumers also can get information by calling 314-645-3300.Contacts:
Michelle Corey, President & CEO, 314-584-6800, email@example.com
, or Chris Thetford, Vice President-Communications, 314-584-6743 or 314-681-4719 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org