The price of copper has reached historic highs over the past few years and, as a result, stealing copper wire, tubing or fittings for resale to recyclers has become a regular occurrence on commercial and industrial properties. Hasty removal of the copper by thieves can also result in substantial damage to roofs, HVAC, sheetrock, ceiling tiles, electrical conduit boxes and wall coverings.
To make matters worse, businesses hit by copper thieves sometimes discover that their insurance coverage will not reimburse them if their property has been vacant for more than 60 days. Even as it pertains to occupied buildings, insurance policies may have a very narrow definition of what constitutes vandalism caused by the breaking in or exiting of burglars. In addition, coverage limits on property damage resulting from theft may also result in a lower-than-expected reimbursement.
Short of employing security guards 24/7, what can you do to reduce your risk?
According to HUB International Risk Services, the key to effective deterrence is to decrease the desirability of a potential target while at the same time creating an increased threat of discovery.
HUB recommends a simple, two-step process to reduce the risk of your business being targeted for copper theft:
1. Marking, Warning & Notification
- Imprint by rubber stamp and/or stencil with permanent ink all pipes, coils and other copper components, identifying the property location. Simple language should indicate: "STOLEN FROM < property # or address >" if a rubber stamp or stencil is used.
- Warn criminals that security measures are in place by placing signs and placards on units and at roof access points.
- Notify law enforcement and salvage yards of the actions taken. Send a letter to local law enforcement and all area salvage yards informing them of the identification measures implemented at your properties. Request that salvage operators notify your property manager and/or the local authorities immediately upon presentation of marked salvage materials not accompanied by a current original letter of contractor authorization, and/or bill of lading from the property manager.
2. Physical Barrier Guarding
- Consider installing open square steel tubing or expanded metal mesh cages to harden the target.
These measures are relatively low cost, easy to implement and effective in deterring thieves.
For complete details on how to implement steps to safeguard your property, download the complimentary HUB International white paper: Deterring Industrial and Commercial Copper Thefts.