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Police see spike in stolen copper; thieves seek big payout

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 13 2012 03:26:46 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 14 2012 04:39:36 AM CDT

Copper thieves are on the prowl as a new report shows metal thefts are on the rise across the country.

READING, Pa. -

Copper thieves are on the prowl as a new report shows metal thefts are on the rise across the country.

Wayne Goldstan, owner of Goldstan Trading Inc. in Reading, buys all kinds of metals. Right now, he said copper is the hot commodity as thieves try to sell it at scrap yards for a big payout.

"I've seen material already come through my doors, and I will refuse it," said Goldstan.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, metal thefts have increased 81 percent since 2008.

Reading police said they have seen a recent spike, and in the past two weeks, they've had a burglary almost every day.

"The damage they do to the homes that they remove the copper from far exceeds the value of copper," said Sgt. John Solecki, Reading Police Dept.

Copper is in demand, and Goldstan said the price of copper can change by the hour.    

"When I started in this business 33 years ago, I was paying 40 cents a pound for copper," said Goldstan.

Now, it could sell anywhere from $3 to $3.25 a pound.

Most of the copper pipes are used for plumbing. and thieves are targeting vacant homes, police said.

"Because most of the homes that are targeted are unoccupied, we rely heavily on neighbors to keep an eye out, especially if they know the house next to them is vacant," said Solecki.