Bloomberg Business Week’s November 24 cover story, “The Great Copper Heist,” offers fascinating details of the nationwide crime trend in copper theft, and exposes the inner workings of the secondary copper market through the efforts of the Dallas Police Dept.’s Metal Theft Unit.
“Dallas’ focus on the problem has produced a model for other cities,” writes author Ben Paynter in the article. He further describes, “While the metal unit cracks only about 10 percent of reported cases, there has been improvement in the overall numbers… In April 2008, Dallas was averaging more than 300 reports of metal theft per month. In 2010, reported thefts are running about 130 per month — still about four every day.”
The Business Week article states that the greatest cost “isn’t what’s being taken – it’s fixing the damage.” It quotes a specialist as saying, “For every dollar stolen, it’s $10 to $25 worth of repair.” A survey shows that in 2008, utilities suffered more than 50,000 incidents of copper theft nationwide, the article states.
I never thought of copper theft as a crime affecting national security, but Paynter’s article references a 2008 FBI report warning that “the persistent, widespread theft ‘presents a risk to both public safety and national security.’”

The story’s coverage of the security industry’s role in combating copper theft is brief —but it was nevertheless gratifying to read about SNC Security’s use of Videofied at AT&T cell tower sites and how it has caught would-be copper thieves.
Read the full article, “The Great Copper Heist,” at