Just when it seemed that increased security measures at local scrap yards were having a positive effect on copper theft, spring had to hit. Over the winter, even buildings that weren’t secured properly seemed to be holding onto their copper longer than usual. In the past couple of weeks, as the temperatures have been rising, I have defintely noticed an increase in theft of copper in St. Louis City properties.
Two times this week I have visited new listings on the market and found them with copper intact. When showing the property to clients the following day, the copper was gone. Just like that, thousands of dollars were down the drain. These properties were secured pretty well too. More could have been done to protect them, but I’d venture to say that they were more secure than the average landlord’s building.
I’ve covered this topic in the past, giving suggestions on how to protect your property: Stopping the flow of stolen copper, Security lighting, What you can do to stop copper thieves. Of all the suggestions I have made, I can’t stress enough how important it is to paint your copper. Its so cheap and so quick to do that there is no reason not to do it. Its also effective. One of the buildings that which I noted as having it’s copper stolen this week actually didn’t lose all its copper: it lost most of it. There was a small section of copper left, coming off one of the water heaters. Access to the copper was quite adequate to quickly steal, but it was left because it was painted. If the copper throughout the basement had been painted, the theft might been avoided all together. Why would these thieves steal copper that requires the paint to be stripped off when they could just go next door?
This problem is likely going to continue throughout the rest of the spring and summer. Take a look at the current security of your properties and determine if you have adequete protection. If not, beef things up a bit. Its worth the time and a few bucks to save the huge hassle and financial loss caused by copper theft.