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Taras Berezowsky

Taras Berezowsky

Taras is a writer for MetalMiner who operate the largest metals-related media site in the US according to third party ranking sites. With a preemptive…

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Copper Crimes: Worldwide Theft of Copper on the Increase

Forget about China’s slight dip in demand for copper – the red metal is still red hot all over the world. So hot that copper crimes undeniably rising more than ever. So hot, even, that three whole nations suffered Internet outages due to the desirability of copper.

Surely you’ve read or heard about the funniest instance (yet with the most widespread fallout) of copper scrapping involved 75-year-old Hayastan Shakarian (above) from the village of Armazi who, according to police, was trying to root up copper scrap to sell for extra money. Instead of finding copper, this enterprising lady effectively cut through a fiber optic cable with her shovel – which cut off Internet service to 90 percent of Armenian users for almost 12 hours, and blacked out the web in parts of Georgia and Azerbaijan too, according to Fox News.

“I have no idea what the Internet is,” she is quoted as having told AFP.

The Fox News report mentioned that copper “looting” is a common way to make money in the former USSR, with scavengers successfully unearthing hundreds of meters of copper cable. But it’s not just the former Soviet Union scavengers that are making the news.

Just before Christmas last year in Barkestone le Vale, Leicestershire, England, thieves stole away with copper scrap worth nearly $500 in today’s prices from a farm in the middle of the day. (Police noted that a vehicle would have been necessary to haul the loot.) A month before that, AT&T offered a $3,000 reward for information on the copper-stealing scoundrels in the Atlanta area whose shenanigans cost 7,000 customers and two schools their phone line service. And just this week in Wichita, Kan., police assessed $200,000 worth of damage after someone broke into two empty warehouses and stripped the copper fixtures and wiring. Things are so bad that legislators in Virginia, for example, moved to change state scrap yard laws to protect “precious metals” early this year. (A hilariously all-inclusive definition was put forth in trying to tackle this vexing problem: “Precious metals include steel, copper wire, aluminum, brass bearings, light and gas fixtures, locks, lead and brass water pipes and all kinds of raw materials and construction equipment.” So literally everything and the kitchen sink, then?)

Of course, with the LME price at about $9,355 per ton this week (roughly $4.20 a pound on the COMEX), folks shouldn’t let copper just pass them by. That’s why several sources actually give copper seekers and scavengers the inside scoop on how to get their hands on it. Clearly, an eHow page exists, titled “How to Find Scrap Copper,” complete with five-step instructions. Associated Content also provides an entry called “Places to Find Scrap Copper” (sample line: “Try to hit the trash routes in the early evening as people are putting out trash and others have yet to pick through it”).

So the lessons here are evident: Keep an eye on your copper if you own it or build with it, and if you want to make a couple extra bucks, start your search with unguarded junk cars or curbside trash – just don’t cut my Internet, OK?

By. Taras Berezowsky

MetalMiner is the largest metals-related media site in the US according to third party ranking sites. With a preemptive global perspective on the issues, trends, strategies, and trade policies that will impact how you source and/or trade metals and related metals services, MetalMiner provides unique insight, analysis, and tools for buyers, purchasing professionals, and everyone else for whom metals and their related markets matter.




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  • Anonymous on April 25 2011 said:
    If the price does not come down we will all witness our infrastructure being stripped down right under our noses.
  • Anonymous on April 25 2011 said:
    So, how do you search for copper, with a shovel?Even more, how do do it outside of a mine, on open ground?And "ain't" it great when you hit paydirt, and find some insulated long tube? And then ask yurse;f, "Wow" I donder what's inside? "I wonder if there is some nice copper wire there?" "Le tme dig up some of those nice straight, smooth, thin, even, round wires...gee, someone must have misplaced them under the ground! No, no, no. I have no idea what the internet is! I live in the wilds, I never even heard of computers!"

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