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(AP)   How exactly do you steal 6 MILES of copper wire, and nobody notice?   ( divider line
    More: Strange, NCAA, copper, wires  
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8722 clicks; posted to Main » on 04 Apr 2013 at 8:50 AM (4 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2013-04-04 09:20:34 AM  
2 votes:
Never underestimate the power of a motivated meth head.
2013-04-04 08:16:54 AM  
2 votes:
Around here someone stole several miles worth of railroad tracks.  You know if you just have a hardhat, orange vest, and a clipboard in your hand, you can pretty much do whatever you please, people will assume you belong there.
2013-04-04 08:12:43 AM  
2 votes:
Answer: It was Utah.
2013-04-04 10:28:39 AM  
1 vote:

Moosecakes: 6 miles of copper wire would be a 3-foot diameter loop of wire coiled 1,680 times. That's really not that unreasonable, wire is pretty thin.

Well some wire is, but if this is utility wire, meant to supply power to whole neighborhoods I imagine it isn't exactly 18 gauge speaker wire. It is just wire though, so I guess you could spool it up and.... I dunno, fit it in a pickup or van or two? How thick is the wire they use for utilities?

This copper theievery bullshiat needs to stop though. Every scrapyard should be required to get ID from every seller and keep records of this shiat.

And yeah, this is what I don't get... You can't buy friggin' Sudafed without putting yourself in a database anymore, and meth users are only literally around 0.3% of drug users or so. Copper theft affects whole communities and businesses. So why are they not doing just what you suggest? Track all the transactions, require ID, have a mandatory slight delay of day or two before the scrap is processed or transferred to downstream processors, etc.... Give the police a chance after a copper theft to check the local scrap buyers and see if they can find the stolen wire and track it back to the thieves.

I guess the scrap buyers must have a lobbyist.
2013-04-04 09:56:18 AM  
1 vote:
Who's doing the recycling? Around here, unless you're an established customer with a scrap plant, you go through the wringer with ID to recycle things. I took a handful of hard drives over the other day and had to show ID, leave a finger print, and practically sign away my first born for $4. I can't imagine what would happen if I rolled in with a bunch of wire and a couple of A/C coils.
2013-04-04 09:54:12 AM  
1 vote:
Stealing that much is easy... stripping off the insulation is the hard part. "Bright" copper (i.e. hand-stripped) is worth at least twice as much as copper with the insulation still on.

When I was a kid my electrician father used to bring home a truckload of cable tailings at the end of the year, we'd have a huge bonfire and burn the insulation off in an incredibly toxic but spectacularly green conflagration. The results got sold to fund the company christmas party. But even that copper didn't sell for anything near what hand-stripped did.
2013-04-04 09:52:21 AM  
1 vote:
Said before and will say it again:
By and large scrappers are thieves and criminals.  Not all of them but a very freaking high percentage of them.

I had a couple tons of copper cable stolen from a construction site once.  It was inside our locked yard, among all our other construction materials (75 million dollar rail rehab project), still on the spools, just delivered a few days ago.

We found it down the street at the scrap yard when dropping off a load of misc. metal from our site.  The cable was still shrink wrapped with the shipping tickets / bills of lading still taped to the side, so it was easy to prove it was ours.  Scrapyard guy had the balls to claim "he had no idea it might have been stolen."
2013-04-04 09:29:16 AM  
1 vote:

Cybernetic: I read a while ago that the steel used in railroad tracks is some of the highest-grade steel made. If they weren't so damned heavy, this would probably happen more often.

Steel is a structural metal, so "high-grade" doesn't actually work that way: its quality is dependent on very minute variations in composition and on how it's worked, so if you recycle it or even anneal it then it's no better than starting from scratch or using any other scrap steel, which you can get for basically nothing at a scrap-yard.  You essentially have to re-tune the carbon content (among other things) of the metal every time it's melted, so unless you actually need the steel type in the tracks for machining it's not worth it.

Copper is mostly used as a conductor, so the sole factor in how good it is is its bulk purity, so you can melt down copper wire and use it to make a copper coffee pot and it'll work just as well, whereas a railroad tie not so much.
2013-04-04 08:41:28 AM  
1 vote:

nekom: You know if you just have a hardhat, orange vest, and a clipboard in your hand, you can pretty much do whatever you please, people will assume you belong there.

"Excuse me ma'am...I'm here to fix the cable."
2013-04-04 08:16:16 AM  
1 vote:

cman: Just count your blessings it wasnt 6 miles of fiber optic cable.

That shiat is EXTREMELY expensive

Yeah, but it's only good for one thing.

Copper wire can be melted down for scrap, and as such, has a value beyond its intended use.
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