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February 2012

What Is Scrap Metal Theft?

Whilst the phrase ‘scrap metal theft’ is one that is quite often tossed around, there may be people around who don’t know what exactly it is referring to. Sure, it has something to do with people stealing old, dumped scrap – but is this all?

Yes and no. Scrap metal theft occurs when people take metal items that do not belong to them. Sometimes this is old scrap that has been dumped, other times it is items that are still in use (like hot water systems and outdoor furniture) that are sold to dealers for their weight value.

The metals that are most commonly stolen for scrap are copper, aluminium, brass and bronze. In Australia alone, copper wiring is stolen from rail tracks, power stations and even scrap metal depots on a regular basis. It has also been noted that metal theft increases when the worldwide prices for the metals rise.

But why do people insist on stealing scrap metal? Ultimately, because it is worth money and is much easier to get rid of than other stolen goods. Law enforcement officials believe that drug addicts are the biggest perpetrators when it comes to scrap theft, as it is quick and easy for them to pass the metal on and collect their payment.

Unfortunately, the victims of scrap metal theft are the community and the residents who have their property stolen. Not only do they lose valuable or needed items, they are punished in other ways, such as increased building costs (to fence in construction sites) and insurance premiums (to cover the extra items being claimed). At the end of the day, taking scrap without permission is against the law, so people who are tempted should think twice being doing it.