Monday, April 11, 2011

Copper: Something I Don't Understand

There's a lot of trouble with people going into vacant buildings and stealing copper piping and wire. They just yank it out and take it--they do a lot of damage. If the pipes are charged with water, the water gets all over. They go right through walls for this stuff. Most of them are dopers. They want that easy money. They get some metal and they go to the buyers. They get their money--typically way less than the actual worth of the items they've turned in--and get their drugs.

Ever since Nick Dutcher's murder by a serial burglar, I have wondered who it is that buys obviously stolen materials and objects from thieves. If just one of the buyers of the stuff the burglar/murderer stole from houses in Ruskin Heights had turned him in, Mr. Dutcher might still be alive.

So, who is buying all the obviously stolen materials that "copperheads" present? I mean, how many hot water heaters, air conditioners and long spools of copper wire can one person find without causing some suspicions?

Just wondering.


Capt. Schmoe said...

Well, where I live it's "Kinda Big Scrap Metal" co. They are a legitimate business that buys all kinds of scrap metal. I sell them my aluminum cans, scrap steel and even copper that I salvage from old appliances and electronics.

The copperheads know that they can go there and sell copper and brass that they have stolen from buildings, both vacant and occupied.

It is such a problem that a state law was passed placing the following requirements on persons selling non-ferrous metals:

In compliance with CA state law SB691, all non-ferrous materials require:

1. Valid CA driver's license, valid CA ID card issued by DMV, or valid federal government-issued ID card containing a photograph & address.

2. A photograph of the seller with his/her materials and a thumb print must be obtained.

3. Seller must sign a statement of ownership.

4. Payment is by cash after 3 days. For frequent customers (5 or more transactions on 5 or more different days per month), payment is by cash at the time of sales.

5. Photos & records of sales will be submitted to law enforcement agency for periodic review.

If these measures have helped the problem it hasn't been by much. Stuff is still getting stolen all of the time. My guess is that a black market middleman is now involved.

Now you know.

Thanks for the post.

The Observer said...

Capt Schmoe:
I bet you are right about the middle man--scrappers and burglars probably know a number of people who will take their dirty goods to legit buyers. It is an awful problem.

KC's trademark fountains were even affected--two had piping and lighting stolen. Today all the fountains were turned on--except one of the two could not be fixed in time and the other will not be lit at night.

I watch the empty houses in my neighborhood--I know it is not the cops highest priority, but you never know, you might call during a slow time and they might get lucky and catch someone.

Thanks for reading and the rich and informative comment!

The Observer

Bob G. said...

Cpt Schmoe is SO right!
There are those dubious "companies" that will take scrap metal (no questions asked), but cities are installing cameras at the facilities and tracking WHAT (and who) comes into the place to dump their "wares".

And we are seeing laws put in place to stem the tide of scrappers...but sometimes, all that isn't enough.

There must be some market somewhere, if not at a local metal dealer, then definitely outside of town.
Thing is trying to catch the perps IN THE ACT of swiping the materials FROM the houses before it even GETS to the metal merchants.

And it takes a community with OPEN EYES to notice that.
Anything less, and the guilt spreads like warm butter on toast.

Good post AND comment.

Stay safe out there.