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(SeattlePI)   You're a dedicated copper thief if you can steal four miles of the stuff   (seattlepi.com) divider line 69
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7743 clicks; posted to Main » on 12 May 2012 at 11:22 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-05-12 10:40:26 PM
farm8.staticflickr.com

RIP Copper
 
2012-05-12 10:47:54 PM
Ohm, my

/wire they still current?
 
2012-05-12 11:24:06 PM
Don't these idiots realize that asteroids are just full of copper? Why don't they steal those instead?
 
2012-05-12 11:25:22 PM
Nothing about this makes sense, unless the crime was committed by the contractor with collusion from the city inspector.
 
2012-05-12 11:26:43 PM
FTFA:

"This isn't something that would have been done overnight," Gray said. "Whoever did this knew what they were going after and had some sophisticated knowledge of how to get in."

In other words, I wouldn't be shocked if it were an inside job.

/Shameless with the puns
 
2012-05-12 11:29:08 PM
you've been faithful kind and true to me old Copper
 
2012-05-12 11:30:47 PM
There isn't enough copper left in the ground to bring the rest of the world up to the US standard of living. It's inevitable that all outdoor copper is stolen.
 
2012-05-12 11:31:28 PM
It's all fun and theivery 'til he finds the last three feet- charged with 16000 volts.
 
2012-05-12 11:32:47 PM
I had a friend who sent himself through grad school at the U of Arizona and fed a family by climbing up phone poles in the desert, cutting down phone lines and selling the copper.

I got a lotta crazy friends.
 
2012-05-12 11:38:19 PM

skiinstructor: It's all fun and theivery 'til he finds the last three feet- charged with 16000 volts.


Do not fight the thieving urges. Resistance is futile.

/I regret nothing with puns
 
2012-05-12 11:38:40 PM
Unless it all happened in one night, which it didn't, according to TFA, how did they not notice all the things suddenly not working due to lack of electricity?
 
2012-05-12 11:39:40 PM
Is that kind of a frequent flyer kind of thing?

/frequent frier?
 
2012-05-12 11:43:14 PM
Yea and people think marijuana is a problem. You don't see people ripping up the infrastructure to feed their weed habit!
 
2012-05-12 11:45:35 PM

Spud Boy: There isn't enough copper left in the ground to bring the rest of the world up to the US standard of living. It's inevitable that all outdoor copper is stolen.


Do not change the social model. Everyone must live alone in a house with one each of every appliance known to man. Carry on. There is no problem. Space and the free market will solve everything!
 
2012-05-12 11:45:46 PM

HotWingAgenda: Unless it all happened in one night, which it didn't, according to TFA, how did they not notice all the things suddenly not working due to lack of electricity?



The TFA also says it was protecting the rebar, which corrodes overtime.
 
2012-05-12 11:47:41 PM
$3.66 a pound and the real unemployment rate hovering around 14.5% makes some people pretty desperate. I know, shocking!!!
 
2012-05-12 11:48:03 PM
blogs.seattleweekly.com

"Whoever did this knew what they were going after and had some sophisticated knowledge of how to get in."
 
2012-05-12 11:48:38 PM
They stole 70,000 lbs of copper. At current scrap prices that's about $250,000 worth. Nice pay day for a few months work. I wonder how exactly they are going to cash it out, seems likely to attract attention if you did it all at once.
 
2012-05-12 11:48:47 PM
shiat like this is the reason there are security guards where the old hospital in my town is being torn down.
 
2012-05-12 11:52:06 PM
A thief hit a former GM site in Flint by taking the copper out of the transformers that use to supply the factory. He ripped apart two before hitting a third that was still charged. They don't know how he survived the high voltage, but he is now trying to sue Consumer's Energy. The news didn't cover this, so I got this from a CE lineman's supervisor.

Some other thieves hit a stripmall taking out all the heat/AC units and computer comunications all in one night for several stores. Not all thieves are lazy, they just see themselves as self-employed without taxes.
 
2012-05-12 11:53:43 PM
Meanwhile, up north in BC...

"We started this segment with a clip from Shawn Hall of Telus in Vancouver on a case of wire theft from earlier this week. Thousands of customers were left without phone service for more than 24 hours.

It's not just an inconvenience. It's expensive. Last year alone, metal theft cost Telus an estimated 19 million dollars."

CBC
 
2012-05-12 11:54:45 PM

89 Stick-Up Kid: Yea and people think marijuana is a problem. You don't see people ripping up the infrastructure to feed their weed habit!


I see people doing it for meth.
 
2012-05-12 11:59:30 PM

89 Stick-Up Kid: Yea and people think marijuana is a problem. You don't see people ripping up the infrastructure to feed their weed habit!


thecriticalcritics.com
 
2012-05-12 11:59:46 PM

ElBarto79: They stole 70,000 lbs of copper. At current scrap prices that's about $250,000 worth. Nice pay day for a few months work. I wonder how exactly they are going to cash it out, seems likely to attract attention if you did it all at once.


Most recyclers in our area not only keep track of who comes in, but how much and what type of metal they are looking to sell. The one that my employer works with also keeps notes about what the scrap was (was it mainly stranded or solid wire, bus bar, plating, panels, heatsinks, dual-element fuses, etc.) It won't be easy to unload 70,000lbs of copper without raising suspicion, especially if it fits the description of stolen goods in the area.
 
2012-05-13 12:00:09 AM

lack of warmth: Not all thieves are lazy, they just see themselves as self-employed without taxes.


Now now... The IRS is going to sniff them out.

The real trick would be to have a legit cover for your copper acquisitions. Say... You run a demolition company and regularly get a few thousand pounds of copper from building's you're taking apart. Toss in a thousand pounds of this extra copper here and there and you'll get paid through legit channels.

Heck, it might not be noticed because they only reason you stole 70,000 pounds of copper was to make up for what small time thieves already stripped from the buildings you were scrapping.
 
2012-05-13 12:01:45 AM
FTA: "The stolen wire probably was cut into segments of two or three feet in length, he said."

Better bet your ass they had these:

http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/wwg/itemDetails.shtml

I'm guessing that what was taken was basically unshielded 750 AWG type cable, also used for DC power plants. if it was hauled in short pieces, it was because it was thick, heavy-ass cable. 750 power cable weighs four pounds a foot, and that shiat gets hard to carry, fast.

Orlando and Miami phone offices seem to have a real problem with "retired" cable walking off. At several dollars per pound, I can't imagine why... 4 miles of that shiat? I think the metal recycler was on the take too, and the thieves better hope they don't roll over easy!

For those of you who think it was an insider job with a contractor... possibly. Or maybe just someone who knew all the right people and was really good at being an evil, sneaky bastard. I've seen both.
 
2012-05-13 12:01:56 AM

Tellingthem: 89 Stick-Up Kid: Yea and people think marijuana is a problem. You don't see people ripping up the infrastructure to feed their weed habit!

[thecriticalcritics.com image 375x242]



I seen 'im!
 
2012-05-13 12:04:11 AM
In my area, they've actually stolen the high voltage power lines running along side some of the country roads. Crazy.
 
2012-05-13 12:05:16 AM

D_Evans45: Tellingthem: 89 Stick-Up Kid: Yea and people think marijuana is a problem. You don't see people ripping up the infrastructure to feed their weed habit!

[thecriticalcritics.com image 375x242]


I seen 'im!


Does scrounging for carpetbud count?
 
2012-05-13 12:05:23 AM

Don't Troll Me Bro!: It won't be easy to unload 70,000lbs of copper without raising suspicion, especially if it fits the description of stolen goods in the area.


It's most likely in China by now.
 
2012-05-13 12:10:23 AM
Most recyclers in our area not only keep track of who comes in, but how much and what type of metal they are looking to sell.

The owner of the scrapyard that bought this stuff needs to go to jail for receiving stolen property. This shiat will stop pretty quick once that starts happening. You can't tell me that some meth head comes in with 2 miles of copper wire and your BS detector isn't going off.
 
2012-05-13 12:10:41 AM

skiinstructor: It's all fun and theivery 'til he finds the last three feet- charged with 16000 volts.


Know how I know you didn't read the article?

ElBarto79: They stole 70,000 lbs of copper. At current scrap prices that's about $250,000 worth. Nice pay day for a few months work. I wonder how exactly they are going to cash it out, seems likely to attract attention if you did it all at once.


First, if it was coated/shielded, you have to strip it of the outer covering: more money for pre-stripped copper, and it's harder to trace. Carpet cutter hooked razorblades work well for this, especially if you pre-cut the cable into relatively short strips. As for cashing out, you do it *very slowly*, with two or three different vendors over an extended area. You need a good spot to hide that shiat, and if you're *really* smart, you do it several years later, in small batches, after the heat has backed off. Most Telco copper thieves have "retirement piles" in sheds, basements, or under houses, and occasionally cash out when out-of-town on business.
Which brings up another problem: your vehicle will ride LOW to the ground with any decent amount of copper hidden in it. Enough to make it worth your while kinda sticks out. I've seen guys use the company credit card to pay for the gas to move cable across state lines, sometimes multiple states, just to take the heat off. It's crazy what insiders get away with.
 
2012-05-13 12:14:01 AM

The Decider: Most recyclers in our area not only keep track of who comes in, but how much and what type of metal they are looking to sell.

The owner of the scrapyard that bought this stuff needs to go to jail for receiving stolen property. This shiat will stop pretty quick once that starts happening. You can't tell me that some meth head comes in with 2 miles of copper wire and your BS detector isn't going off.


Dude, 'round these parts, they show up with manhole covers and aluminum guard rails, sometimes still intact! We actually had a local recycler get sent to prison for a complex (and apparently very profitable) meth ring, where the scavangers were paid in meth only, and they acted as the main distributor. Pretty good idea, until someone gets caught and rolls over on ya.
 
2012-05-13 12:14:14 AM
I thought that said 'decapitated.'

/time for bed
 
2012-05-13 12:18:21 AM

HotWingAgenda: Unless it all happened in one night, which it didn't, according to TFA, how did they not notice all the things suddenly not working due to lack of electricity?


These were ground wires. The only conduct static electricity to the earth and do not carry A/C current. RTFA.
 
2012-05-13 12:20:26 AM

wildcardjack: lack of warmth: Not all thieves are lazy, they just see themselves as self-employed without taxes.

Now now... The IRS is going to sniff them out.

The real trick would be to have a legit cover for your copper acquisitions. Say... You run a demolition company and regularly get a few thousand pounds of copper from building's you're taking apart. Toss in a thousand pounds of this extra copper here and there and you'll get paid through legit channels.

Heck, it might not be noticed because they only reason you stole 70,000 pounds of copper was to make up for what small time thieves already stripped from the buildings you were scrapping.


Around here we aren't talking about particularly smart people. The guy who survived getting fried was using a coffee mug to scoop out the oil and dumping it on the ground before pulling the copper (the transformers were in a trench in the ground). The oil helped to pass the current which almost killed him. The CE guy I was talking to said these guys don't go straight to the scrap yards anymore. They sell to another guy who moves it far away from the place of theft before selling the metal (usually out of state). The second guy must have a way figured out to cover his tracks, but the guys who do the stealing are just thugs with basic knowledge.
 
2012-05-13 12:24:37 AM

Man On Pink Corner: Nothing about this makes sense, unless the crime was committed by the contractor with collusion from the city inspector.


Inside Job all the way. Nobody steals 4 miles and 70,000 pounds of copper of the course of a few weeks without knowing what they're doing.

Roughly 160,000 dollars. Certainly more than a hobo gets gutting a house. Whew.
 
2012-05-13 12:29:14 AM
Rebar embedded within concrete will degrade through electrolysis under certain circumstances. It sounds like the stolen cable amounted to a protective ground/drain. It wasn't an active element of the system. Rather it was a prophylactic measure to protect the mechanical integrity of the structure supporting the rails.
 
2012-05-13 12:32:59 AM
The copper was probably sent to China, in a container that had been booked with the steamship line as "waste paper".
 
2012-05-13 12:36:39 AM
Despite the fact that he stole tons of copper, one must admit that this thief has a lot of mettle.

/Try the veal.
 
2012-05-13 12:46:41 AM
if the thieves sold it directly and it took them some time to get it all , i think its likely sold in in small batches to more easily hide their tracks and by the time the theft was discovered its like they had cashed it out and the copper was melted down and reused already.
 
2012-05-13 12:51:23 AM
Thieves were stealing the aluminum light poles on RT95 a while ago so brazenness isn't an issue I suppose. The hint of death seems to be no deterrent either.
 
2012-05-13 12:59:24 AM

Howard Dean: Rebar embedded within concrete will degrade through electrolysis under certain circumstances. It sounds like the stolen cable amounted to a protective ground/drain. It wasn't an active element of the system. Rather it was a prophylactic measure to protect the mechanical integrity of the structure supporting the rails.


Which makes me wonder why it needed to be an inch thick in the first place. It's not as if some voltage drop is a problem in a cathodic protection application. #12 AWG would have been fine.
 
2012-05-13 01:05:16 AM
That's enough money to attract smart people to steal it.

If it's a standard wire type (my guess would be that braided, half-inch diameter stuff) then you're not going to see it again.

Someone smart enough to get into the rail infrastructure and only swipe what wouldn't be noticed isn't necessarily from that job or even from that state, it could just be someone with knowledge of light rail design and installations.

My guess is he worked faster than we're guessing.

/I'm wondering if the state should take over copper and brass recycling, and that you should only legally be able to sell it to them. Just too much money and too much copper around. Too many scrap yards willing to pay lowball with no questions asked.
 
2012-05-13 01:10:34 AM

olddinosaur: I had a friend who sent himself through grad school at the U of Arizona and fed a family by climbing up phone poles in the desert, cutting down phone lines and selling the copper.

I got a lotta crazy friends.


What did he major in?

\Go Wildcats!
 
2012-05-13 01:13:35 AM
The oil helped to pass the current which almost killed him.

Transformer oil is not conductive.

It is however awesomely flammable
 
2012-05-13 01:22:57 AM
studebaker hoch~

Great Link.
 
2012-05-13 01:23:11 AM

grimlock1972: if the thieves sold it directly and it took them some time to get it all , i think its likely sold in in small batches to more easily hide their tracks and by the time the theft was discovered its like they had cashed it out and the copper was melted down and reused already.


He who smelt it, dealt it?
 
2012-05-13 01:24:09 AM
Any gifted photoshoppers want to give us a pic of what a "copper stripper" might look like?
 
2012-05-13 01:27:26 AM
wtf, if the trains were still running, what was the copper for??
 
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