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Copper theft a problem everywhere

Updated: Thursday, May 8 2014, 01:09 PM EDT

WTOV9.com
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ohio – Copper theft is a huge problem around the Ohio Valley -- and the nation.
A recent report puts Ohio at the top of the list for metal thefts.
Police call it a crime of opportunity. With many vacant houses and old mills, it's no surprise the number of metal thefts is high.
Some say, the problem is actually getting better.
“We need honest scrap yards to report it,” Steubenville Police Chief Bill McCafferty said. “Some do some don't.”
One local scrap yard that does cooperate, according to McCafferty, Van's Iron and Metal.
The owner there said they always ask for a photo ID and take note of license plates numbers and contact police right away if something appears suspicious.
But that isn't keeping the metal thieves from preying on abandoned houses.
“You have people that don't have money so they see the empty house, they take a chance at not getting caught,” McCafferty said. “They steal from the basement, the copper pipes -- any kind of valuable metal they can find."
The chief noted copper thieves at mills run the risk of both being arrested and losing your life.
“As one officer told me, his father used to work in the mill,” McCafferty said. “There's all kinds of transformers. People get killed throughout the state getting electrocuted trying to steal the stuff."
The national insurance crime bureau report noted that there were more than 4,000 claims from 2011 to 2013 from homes and businesses.
Jefferson County is trying to put a dent in that number by prosecuting the cases. There's an effort to crackdown statewide too, according to the Ohio Insurance Institute.
Ohio's scrap metal program, expected to fully launch later this year, will aid law enforcement in the identification of metal thefts, thieves and metal theft transactions, according to the institute.
Trailing behind Ohio in metal thefts is Texas at No. 2 and California at No. 3.

Copper theft a problem everywhere


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