Thursday, June 26, 2008

Copper theft from empty homes

Don’t get me wrong I’m all for recycling metals; especially copper. Smelting copper from its raw state requires a horrific amount of energy, more than any other metal. Copper ore it seems is only to be found in beautiful remote parts of Chile, Peru, and Zambia that I’d rather weren’t torn to pieces with open cast mining operations. If that weren’t enough it’s running out anyway This guy reckons there’s only 26 years worth left. So with China’s economic boom demanding huge supplies of the stuff it’s little surprise that it’s trading at record prices; $8,500 a tonne, earlier this month. I was not shocked to hear that the only person with enough money to pay £40 million for a Monet this week was a copper dealer. What’s this got to do with empty homes? Well it seems that, abandoned homes have become the easiest place for the less scrupulous dealers to source the metal. This story is just one of many reporting the problem in the United States, and I’ve heard of cases in the UK too. What this of course does is hugely bump up the costs of refurbishing the property and store up future demand for the metal when all the stolen pipes need to be replaced when the property market turns up again. The moral of the story for property owners is surely don’t allow your property to become empty. Accepting a lower rent may be hard to swallow, but the alternative could be a lot more expensive.


  1. Andrew Vickers21 July 2008 at 12:28

    I'm surprised this has only recently reached the headlines. In Nottingham this type of burglary has been going on for some time. So much so that amongst my other kit I now carry a stop cock key in my car. The usal MO is to rip out all the piping, boiler and radiators, usually accessing the pipes by pulling up the floorboards, but the current trend is to pull it out from below by ripping down the ceilings. This has the added bonus of exposing the wiring which can also be ripped out and burned off to release the copper core.

  2. Fascinating story. I had no idea people were stealing copper from houses.

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