US housing repossessions increase copper theft

Wednesday, 30 July, 2008

According to a recent report in The Boston Globe, the combination of increased copper prices and record housing foreclosures in the US state of Massachusetts has resulted in an ‘epidemic’ of house thefts.

The price of scrap copper has quadrupled over the past decade, tempting thieves to plunder empty houses.

One real estate agent who handles foreclosures was reported as saying: “I don’t even put for sale signs up anymore. It’s not worth it … don’t put up anything that makes [the house] look empty. I'm getting to the point where I'm thinking of leaving copper on the front porch with a sign that says: ‘Just take it. Please don't break into the house.’”

The article reported that thieves punch holes in walls and rip up floors to find the metal, usually used for plumbing and electrical wiring.

The thefts are also weighing down a struggling real estate market by adding to the number of properties that aren't selling. One agent had a buyer lined up for one home until it was burgled. The thieves stole a few hundreds dollars' worth of copper, but caused damage estimated at $15,000.


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