The Ada County Sheriff’s Office is reporting an increase in copper thefts at abandoned homes and new construction sites.
Property Crimes Detective Marc Bowman said thefts had been down for some time, but started to pick up again in October. He said suspects will break into homes and rip out copper wiring from walls, clean it, then sell it to scrap yards. In some cases, scrap yards noting suspicious activity among people trying to sell unusual amounts of copper have reported it to police.
“Copper is expensive right now. These individuals will take anything they can get,” Bowman said.
According to the International Copper Study Group, increased demand in China and some operational issues in U.S. mines have boosted prices globally.
Bowman said these crimes aren’t a new phenomenon and construction sites have been targeted in the past, especially with tool thefts.
“We urge contractors to write or engrave their names on their stuff, which helps a lot,” he said.
Suspicious construction site red flags include people who might be there on a Sunday or when no one else is working.
“If you seen something weird in the middle of the day; report it right away.”