According to NICB (National Insurance Crime Bureau), copper is highly prized by thieves who are looking to make some easy money.  Over a two-year period, 25,000 claims were filed related to the theft of aluminum, brass, bronze, and copper.  Not surprisingly, 96% of these thefts were copper-related.

Retail facilities and construction sites are two of the hardest hit by copper theft.  Considering both of these are typically dark and deserted during the nighttime hours, they become easy targets for copper thieves.  Retail strip malls often offer easy access to AC units on the rooftop, as well as access from one retailer to the next without ever getting off of the building.  Copper coils, wiring, and piping are like “gold” to thieves, who may strip every copper component they can find from HVAC equipment on a construction site, waiting to be installed.

How can you deter copper theft at your retail location or construction site?  Here are a few tips:

  • Avoid letting copper materials and equipment sit out where they are vulnerable to theft by having them delivered on the day of installation
  • Make sure storage trailers and trucks are securely locked, and restrict access to keys
  • Be on alert when at the construction site for vehicles or activity that seems suspicious
  • Use storage containers, wire cages and/or secured buildings to store large quantities of equipment which contain copper components
  • Consider hiring a security service or local law enforcement to patrol and/or guard the work site during the hours no workers are present
  • Make sure your crew is trained on security procedures regarding materials and equipment; you may want to devise an inventory management system for tracking and identifying these materials as well

Preventive measures can also help deter copper theft at retail stores and shopping malls.  Some of the things you can do to prevent theft of copper components from AC units include installing exterior motion-sensor lighting, secure fencing, and video surveillance.  You may also want to consider locked steel cages around AC units, and monitoring during nighttime hours, weekends or other times which would be regarded as opportune for would-be thieves.

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