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Stopping the flow of stolen copper from St. Louis real estate properties

*NOTE – This article was originally written in February of 2007 for the newsletter.

There is a plague afflicting the St. Louis area. This onslaught is indiscriminate in choosing victims. Businesses, residences, apartments, even churches are not safe from the salivating jaws of this beast. Keep on the lookout for the copper thief.

Everyone seems to agree that the surge in copper prices from $.50 a pound to over $3.00 has caused a major surge in copper theft. Whether by stealth, trickery or reckless abandon, copper thieves have been ransacking our area. Copper pipes, electrical wiring and old gutters are especially vulnerable targets.

Many residents blame the continual climb in theft on an inept police force or dismissive neighbors. But there is no way you can pin this on them. It would be impossible to have eyes on every potential theft target at all times. There isn’t enough manpower. Even if there was, in a city with so many rehabs going on at any given time, thieves posing as contractors can too easily gain hassle-free access to vulnerable areas.

Preventative measures are not the key to solving this issue. If we really want to stop the thieves, we need to cut off their buyers: scrap yards. These businesses serve a necessary and functional purpose, but more has to be done to prevent this theft. Perhaps scrap buyers should only pay sellers by check and keep drivers license records of all sellers? Perhaps scrap yards who knowingly buy from thieves should face stiffer fines. Regardless of the path to be taken, there must be action.

Protect yourself. Take a stand. Call your local alderman (search for your alderman) and scrap yards today and demand that they fix this problem. We need to be fostering a hospitable environment for developers and residents not robbing them blind.

Notable scrap yards in close proximity:

– Ace Scrap Metals, 5900 Manchester, St. Louis
– Top Metal Buyers, 808 Walnut, East St. Louis
– Cash’s Scrap Metal, 300 E. Nagel, St. Louis

*Check out my previous blog entry, “Stopping Copper Thieves: What can you do?” for tips on protecting yourself.

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Matt Kastner

Matt Kastner is an Investment Real Estate Consultant at St. Louis Real Estate Society in St. Louis, Missouri. He is also develops properties on the side through Threshold Properties. When he isn’t representing investors in the purchase or sale of multifamily properties, rehabs, foreclosures and other income producing properties, he is often taking on rehab projects himself. He lives in South St. Louis and has been in the real estate business since 2004.

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