July 21, 2008

Thefts of Copper, Brass on the Rise

By Carole Brand, The Enterprise Ledger, Ala.

Jul. 22--More than 72 reports of theft of property have been investigated so far this year by the Coffee County Sheriff's Department.

According to Chief Deputy Ronnie Whitworth nine arrests were made in connection to some of the thefts.

"Right now, we're having more reports of thefts in copper and brass than any other thing," he said Monday. "People are stealing whatever they can that has any copper or brass in it because of the high price it brings."

Jack Metals report that a number one grade copper brings $3 per pound. Even a number two type grade brings $2.75.

Yellow brass figures into $1.85 per pound with refining brass bringing 50 cents a pound.

Whitworth said the sheriff's department works closely with Jack Metals to make sure each pound of copper or brass turned in is legitimate.

According to the metal company, each individual who brings any type metal in to sell has to have a photo identification.

"The thieves are stealing out of abandoned houses if people have left air conditioners behind, but it really doesn't matter. Businesses and residents have reported their air conditioners stolen and other things on their property that contain copper or brass."

Other items that could contain copper include electric wires, tubes, pipes and fittings and condenser tubes.

Whitworth said the recessed economy might have something to do with more thefts reported.

"We had have lawnmowers, four-wheelers and things like this reported stolen last year, but the rise in copper thefts have just gone through the roof," he said. "It probably does have something to do with the economy now because everything is going sky high. Like I said, we've had more of these kinds of thefts going on with the metals than we've ever had before. People who steal are going to get whatever they can when they go to a residence, but they are now looking for specific brass and copper items that will bring them fast money and they can unload it quickly."

If the public has any information about the thefts of copper and brass, contact the Coffee County Sheriff's Department at 894-5535.


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