More Heist-able: Your H.D.T.V. or Your A.C.?

Burglaries are on the decline across the United States, with at least one notable exception: increasingly, thieves are breaking into foreclosed homes — stripping out the copper pipes, wiring, and appliances — and selling their pilfered goods as scrap. From there, Treehugger reports, the scrap metal is most often shipped to China.

Coincidentally, that’s the country Tyler Cowen credits for the downswing in U.S. burglary. Low wages in China have helped flood the market with cheap electronics, lowering their value enough that they’re not worth stealing any more.

Your car’s catalytic converter, on the other hand…

East Coast Phil

Here in Nova Scotia, thieves stole 30 km of power line in a rural area during a power failure earlier this winter. There are also a lot of coastal summer homes in which copper piping has been stolen.

Meanwhile, in Halifax, some really bright thieves stole the copper fittings off propane tanks beside a condo complex. Fortunately nobody was lighting up nearby.


This has been commonplace in cities that have a large housing abandonment problem. It's more noticable now that it's occuring in what were once market-stable neighborhoods. Just think if aluminum siding were as commonplace as it once was...
Most municpalities are aware of this problem and are now regulating and inspecting metal recyclers much the same as they would a pawn broker.

Leonard Klaatu

We arrived at work one day and realized we had no phones and no Internet. Turns out thieves had taken our T1 line. It was in conduit (on the ground). They had cut it at one end and the provider figures they hooked it to a vehicle to pull it from the conduit (because they couldn't have pulled it without some mechanical device). Stole it for the copper. So now our T1 is up in the air!

Milan Cole

In some cases it's not just for the value of the stuff but for personal reasons as well. In areas with high foreclosures this has apparently become quite a problems, as described in this article:

-Milan Cole, Realtor


Legislations has ammended a house bill to require thumbprints, picture ID, and a myriad of other information to be obtained so that they may legally do business.

Are the legislative fat cats lighting cigars with hundred dollar bills patting each other on the back for a job well done now that thefts have declined and flow into scrap yards has drastically decreased?

Or with the sharp decline of scrap metal prices due to demand here in the US and abroad (China) are we able to draw conclusions that thefts have decreased?