Over the last year, the theft of copper has been on the rise. It seems like just about every day I read about the continuing idiocy of copper thieves, stealing wiring and piping to make a few bucks. Unfortunately for welding distributors, copper welding wire is one of the items that has been commonly targeted.
Just yesterday, a Louisiana paper reported that GAWDA member Red-D-Arc Welderentals’ Sulphur, Louisiana, store was victim to a series of burglaries over the last few weeks. Fortunately, police caught the thief in action during a stakeout. Zachary Menard was charged with stealing over $20,000 in welding leads.
The reason for the sudden onset of copper theft? The price of copper has gone up from around $1.25 per pound in 2009 to over $4 per pound in 2011. As a result, thieves have gone to extreme measures to collect copper scrap. The NY Times reports that, in Ohio, thieves stole 130 catalytic converters from a muffler shop. In Oklahoma, thieves used chain saws to cut down utility poles and steal 3,000 feet of wire.
The NY Times article reports that the FBI has called copper theft a threat to the nation’s “critical infrastructure.” Without a doubt, it presents a threat to welding distributors. What can be done? Dan Belanger provided some tips on preventing theft in his article, “It Has To Be Here Somewhere.” Belanger says, “As much as we hate to think about it, some of us are affected by theft, either internally and/or externally.” He provides some useful advice, including his tip to keep an eye on your dumpster. “One of the more creative ways to remove product from your building is to take it out with the trash and retrieve it after hours when no one is around.”
Have you been affected by copper theft? How can welding distributors prevent their wire leads from being stolen?