Drop in Copper Price Bad News for Thieves?

Knoxville (WVLT) - You've heard about several copper thefts across East Tennessee this summer.

Now, the Knox County Sheriff's Department tells us the number of incidents is actually coming down.

Volunteer TV's Kim Bedford explains.

Copper thieves seem to be following the price of copper, along with the housing market and backing off a bit.

Knox County Sheriff's Deputy Chief Bob Waggoner says, "It's come down considerably and I think that's due to the price coming down. It was over three dollars a pound. It's like $2.62 a pound today."

Chief Waggoner says takes a while to add up.

"Copper sells for about 6-7 thousand dollars a ton, so after awhile you build up a good supply and they'll shop around."

Many shop around for copper in new subdivisions like this one in West Knoxville.

Saddlebrook Homes Superintendent Roger Douglas says, "At random, it'll be at night, come in and discover someone had been in there and cut some wires in various spots of the house."

Douglas says he's actually seen a decrease in copper thefts, but still had four of his houses under construction hit over the last four months...

"It sets us back a little bit on our schedule and usually we lose anywhere from 5-7 days, going in to troubleshoot the house, go through theft reports and then we've got to deal with trying to get the house rewired."
And not to mention the cost.

"It can be sometimes as much as 800 dollars, sometimes more depending on how much wire they take out."

Waggoner says catching these thieves to make them pay up isn't easy.

"It's very difficult because there's a lot of new home under construction, a lot of new apartments under construction and they seem to know at what point to go get the copper."

Chief Waggoner also says the colder it gets, the less copper thefts they'll see.

If caught, the thieves could be charged with a felony and forced to pay every penny of damage.

Waggoner recommends anyone in a neighborhood with homes being built to keep an extra eye out and report anything suspicious.

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