Metal thefts continue to plague the nation

In a report released May 1, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) sees more evidence of pervasive metal theft – overwhelmingly copper – affecting communities across the nation. The report reviews metal theft claims from Jan. 1, 2010 through Dec. 31, 2012.

During this period, 33,775 insurance claims for the theft of copper, bronze, brass or aluminum were handled – 32,568 of them (96 percent) for copper alone. This shows a 36 percent increase in claims when compared with the 25,083 claims reported between Jan. 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2011.

When the number of metal theft claims per month and monthly average copper prices are compared, the number of claims filed is found to have a statistically significant correlation with the price of copper.

So far in 2013, there have been reports of copper thefts at numerous locations coast to coast including one from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport which disabled the approach lighting for one of the runways. Meanwhile, across the nation less brazen but equally damaging thefts have continued to darken streets and disable traffic controls.

The report ranks Ohio first of all the states generating 3,228 metal theft claims. It was followed by Texas (2,624), Georgia(1,953), California (1,888), and North Carolina (1,682).

The top-five Core Based Statistical Areas generating the most metal theft claims are New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ (1,275); Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL (1,154); Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA (1,019); Dallas-Ft. Worth-Arlington, TX (849); and Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE (786).

Depending on the circumstances of the theft, these incidents may not generate an insurance claim, or even a police report. Consequently, comprehensive empirical data is elusive. While this report deals primarily with submitted insurance claims, the ultimate impact of this activity falls, to some degree, on all consumers. Losses to businesses and government entities are shared with customers and taxpayers through higher costs for goods and services and/or reductions in services.

Individuals can do their part to prevent these kinds of thefts by simply being vigilant in their neighborhoods and business communities. If dwellings remain unoccupied for extended periods of time, they become magnets for unlawful behaviors. Wire stripping is among the activities that are routinely discovered in these locations. Your best protection is simply paying attention. Talk with your neighbors and ask one that you trust to keep watch on your home if you will be away and return the favor. As always, you should report suspicious activity to your local law enforcement agency. Unreported crime may breed more crime.

While metal thefts continue, there have been a number of successful legislative and regulatory efforts enacted in recent years all aimed at stemming the problem. Currently, state bills addressing metal theft are pending in Arizona, California, Michigan, Minnesota and Washington, among other states, while at the federal level, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced this past February the “Metal Theft Prevention Act of 2013.”

Anyone with information concerning metal theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422), texting keyword “fraud” to TIP411 (847411) or by visiting our Web site at Or, iPhone or iPad users can download the NICB Fraud Tips app to make it easy to quickly send a tip and get a response

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau