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Crime Communications Your Rights Online

AT&T Goes After Copper Wire Thieves 338

coondoggie writes "Copper thieves targeting Atlanta are now being targeted themselves by AT&T, which is offering $3,000 for information leading to their arrest. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that in one recent three-day stretch, nearly 7,000 customers and two schools lost land line phone service. The FBI has said in the past that the rising theft of the metal is threatening critical infrastructure by targeting electrical substations, cellular towers, telephone land lines, railroads, water wells, construction sites, and vacant homes for lucrative profits."
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AT&T Goes After Copper Wire Thieves

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  • go down the wire isle and you're almost guaranteed to be approached by a security guard posing as a shopper.... "$15M for this store and the lanes are so small, right? what's the deal?"

    i usually pick up the biggest spool i can a few times and turn it over, then leave then come back and do it a few times just to watch them dance and attempt to continue their charade.

    copper is more lucrative than gold in leveraging society. it is required in abundance.

  • by Duositex ( 620105 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @02:49PM (#34392222)

    Looks like these guys are stopping people from...

    *puts on sunglasses*
    ...conducting business.

    • by blair1q ( 305137 )

      Do I hear...The Who?

    • You forgot to turn your post sideways before delivering the punch line.
      -1 for lack of style.
  • Here in South Africa copper wire has been a country wide problem, some areas being hit time and again 1 week after the lines have been restored.
    I definitely agree that fiber is the way to go, especially once you've replaced the same line more than 6 times....

    Problem is that they go after the electricity cables too, and those can't be replaced with fiber.
    Occasionally they end up self fried, but it doesn't seem to be a long term deterrent.
    • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

      Perhaps improving the job market and your nations distribution of wealth might help. People go to extremes when they cannot afford the basics of life. If your kids needed to eat you too would risk toasting yourself with an electrical line.

  • who is dumb enough to go a electrical substations to take cable when there is other cable that is easy to get and is safer to get.

  • by mlts ( 1038732 ) * on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @02:56PM (#34392340)

    One of the reasons newer A/C condensers have signs like "NO COPPER INSIDE" is exactly because of this.

    The reason for this happening? Copper is in areas that have no guards, alarms, curious onlookers. Then it is just one insulation-burning step away from a recycler and cash per pound.

    The only real solution is to start forcing recyclers to have a chain of custody, similar to what pawnshops have when someone tries to sell/pawn something. No "well, I got this copper from an old remodel I just did" BS which serves now. Require a valid ID for sale with valid contact info. Some recyclers do their homework with this, but there are always others who don't.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      That's the problem. When the scrap dealers will accept parking meters and in one case, the pendulum from a hundred-year-old clock, then the problem isn't the meth-head looking for a fix. A reputable place will require ID and call the place. Some of the places here provide coffee, a tent, and insulation strippers.

      No really, parking meters. They started stealing the parking meters.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Nadaka ( 224565 )

        ... Some of the places here provide coffee, a tent, and insulation strippers...

        You know copper recycling is profitable if they can afford to provide strippers.

      • Some of the places here provide coffee, a tent, and insulation strippers.

        What is the tent for? "Methhead just stripped all the copper out of the last relative's house who let him stay there and now has no other place to go" I'm assuming?

    • It happens during construction and remodeling too, as often security guards aren't hired to protect empty buildings.

      A few years ago the San Jose police had a nice sting. They put up actual paper fliers around offering to buy copper, and then set up a recycling center store front. When word got out that they'd buy anything, people actually showed up with stolen cars, drugs, guns, and even a guy selling bombs.
      • by mlts ( 1038732 ) *

        I think that is exactly a tool that might need to be used more, although it takes resources and manpower from an already strained system (and property crimes are low on the list in general) -- more sting operations like that. Perhaps even a recycling center that is persistant, but is able to keep tabs on the perps just for evidence reasons.

        A long term sting like that would do three things -- make the thieves doing that leery of recycling centers in general, throw a number in prison, and perhaps help find o

  • If they're stealing the stuff it's because someone is paying them to do so, go after those thieves.

  • From personal experience: This is usually performed by meth heads. Give a bounty for Dallas, I can point out an entire neighborhood of them.
    • by blair1q ( 305137 )

      I wonder what would happen if you rounded them up and took them out to a mine and gave them picks.

      • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

        If you promised meth in exchange for whatever you want out of the ground you would get a lot of digging and some amount of killing each other. On the whole I bet it would be a very productive mine.

      • The unions would sign them all up, take their dues, then send them on strike.
  • What a sad commentary on the state of the nation.
  • I don't want to see any of you heartless punks turning in Bubbles.

  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @03:17PM (#34392700)
    Like stealing statues, then selling them at one thousandth of their value as scrap metal: here [newstimes.com]
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @03:21PM (#34392780)

    I can definitely see why someone would put their life at risk by snitching on criminals, for that kind of reward. They could live like a king!

    That's even more than I could get for finding that lost dog!

    • Given how relatively little money they make from the scrap sales (only $4/lb, even if they carried 100lbs it's only $400), $3000 is enough to make one meth-head turn on another I'd wager.

  • I have a new-ish house where there wasn't originally a phone line. I added AT&T service about a month ago and they have yet to bury it. It seems like they're not too serious about this issue.
  • Maybe I'm being a fool here but... they wouldn't steal copper if there weren't corrupt metal buyers out there. I mean, why the heck would a scrap yard accept X feet of copper wire if he shows up in his pickup? For all the press on this issue (and there's a lot of it here in Detroit), there's never any real discussion of fining or doing ANYTHING to discourage the metal buyers from accepting obviously stolen materials. Until such steps are taken (i.e. real penalties for accepting stolen cable, pipes, etc), th
  • by shadowrat ( 1069614 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @03:58PM (#34393448)
    Once they bust this copper theft ring the papers will proclaim:
    "Coppers put Stopper on Copper Choppers"
  • Penny mining (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RevWaldo ( 1186281 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @04:01PM (#34393484)
    Of course ne'er-do-wells have resorted to stealing copper wire, ever since The Man made melting down pennies a federal crime [usmint.gov]. US pennies and nickels are technically worth more as metal than their face value. (I can't source it but I recall reading that before the new regulation was made a company was actually gearing up to enter the penny-melting business until the feds put the kibosh on it.)

  • Life imitates art again: welcome to the world of Mad Max. Water ain't the only finite resource. Have you had the catalytic converter stolen off your SUV yet?

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.