back to article Verizon posts WANTED poster for copper rustlers

Verizon is sick of having to refresh its copper network merely to replace stolen metal, and for the forth time since 2013 has posted a reward for information leading to arrests. The broadband brigands aren't fooling around, either. In the latest incidents more than 10,000 feet of copper were heisted by thieves, leading to the …

  1. Mark 85

    If one was going to steal the copper...

    make it worth your while. Take the power companies' copper. Foot for foot, there's more copper.. and voltage. The downside is, the smell of copper thieves frying from the voltage isn't very appealing.

    On the serious side, maybe the Telco's need to think about putting a pair in that's carrying substantial voltage as a deterrent?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If one was going to steal the copper...

      South Cal Edison got so sick of their copper being stolen that it was cheaper to pay for 24/7 security and then they put in decent fencing replacing chain link fence with a fence that you really have to work to cut through and is alarmed.

      When the power used to go out during the previous 2 years it would be toss up between a copper thief or a drunk driver running into utility poles. Now it is just the weekly power outage from the drunk drivers with that amazing ability to aim for the power poles.

      1. Shannon Jacobs

        Rethinking the problem: Why are the theives that desperate?

        Gee, maybe they're seriously desperate for small amounts of money? Maybe it would be cheaper to hire the thieves as security guards?

        Large income disparities are troublesome, but the disparities in the States are nothing compared to the international ones. Let's hope Saudi Arabia doesn't disintegrate now... Much more potential for troubles there, but I suppose the only link you see is that gas prices could rise again.

        1. dan1980

          Re: Rethinking the problem: Why are the theives that desperate?

          @Shannon Jacobs

          Well, it's not pennies.

          Doing some rough calcs, phone cabling is 24AWG, which is 1.94lb per 1000ft. Taking a 100-pair bundle, that's ~0.25lb per foot, which puts a 300ft length (apparently the average stolen) at ~75lb - that's just the wire, excluding insulation.

          At around $2.7/lb for pure, high quality copper scrap (cursory check only), that brings our 300ft length of 100-pair in at ~$200.

          Now, if one could grab as much as one could transport, we have to look at the feasibility of taking the cable. A quick check shows me the Ford F-150 is the best selling pickup in the US and 100-pair cable is 0.83" wide but that is indoor cable so let's round-up to an even 1". That means that one could fit 70,000ft of such cable into the tray of an F-150 and still be able to close the lid, should you have one.

          Of course, that's putting it in as perfectly as possible, and that seems rather unlikely, so let's drop it significantly and say that out hasty crims only manage a quarter of that density.

          That's still 17,500ft, which is $11,000.

          Yet another quick check shows that telephone cabling fetches ~$1.50/lb (for the whole bundle - insulation and all). Approaching the calculation from that number, it works out pretty close.

          Using the cabling linked above shows a total weight of 435.5lb per 1000ft. 17,500ft = 7620lb x $1.50 = $11,400.

          So, a hastily packed F-150 can yield $11K.


          1. dan1980

            Re: Rethinking the problem: Why are the theives that desperate?

            Mkay, so with all my website hopping, I kind of ignored the fact that 7,000lb might just be a little beyond the capabilities of a pickup. And indeed the F-150 can do up to 3,500lb in the tray, though that's one of the V8s. Take a V6, we can say somewhere between 2-3,000lb. Let's take 2,000lb, assuming that when it starts to groan, our crims stop loading.

            That's still $3,000, which is not at all bad for a night's work!

            Of course, the F-150 will tow a fair amount too, though keeping to the simpler and cheaper trailers (i.e. no brakes) that's still another 1,000lb - $1,500.

            1. rhydian

              Re: Rethinking the problem: Why are the theives that desperate?

              Things are a bit less sophisticated with UK copper theives.

              They take a Transit Tipper, lift a manhole cover, tie a chain to the underground copper bundle then simply drive off, tearing out the bundle and stuffing it on the back of the van.

              1. dan1980

                Re: Rethinking the problem: Why are the theives that desperate?

                Is there nothing the Transit can't do?

                1. rhydian

                  Re: Rethinking the problem: Why are the theives that desperate?

                  "Is there nothing the Transit can't do?"

                  Drive more than three inches away from the rear bumper of the vehicle ahead?

        2. Fungus Bob

          Re: Rethinking the problem: Why are the theives that desperate?

          "Maybe it would be cheaper to hire the thieves as security guards?"

          Maybe South Cal Edison did.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. roger stillick

    Welcome to 2015....USA...

    "Shopping" or druggies using stolen cars to smash into store fronts off hours and grab what they can is the latest crime thing here...

    "Working" or druggies ripping copper wiring out of vacent houses and back alley phone cables is a crime that started 10 years ago...

    Scrap copper can legally be turned into a recycler in California w/o a bill of sale by the scrapper from the origional owner... not so in Oregon, wire theft is a felony, the wire cannot be sold to a recycler w/o paperwork... so the druggies steal bronze grave markers and aluminum truck rims... those folks go to jail here in Oregon, not so in California...

    IMHO= it is a law enforcement thing... or at least a law thing.

    Q= why can't we get fiber cable w/ CS- copper-steel line wire n hubs everywhere... no one wants that stuff (CS wire has no scrap value)... at this point it isn't copper anymore, but still cheaper than copper.

    note= 100 percent of commercial AC power cabling is aluminum, both overhead or buried, just not used in buildings or homes where copper rules...RS.

    1. wikkity

      Re: "Shopping" is the latest crime thing here

      Wow, the US is really behind the times we had that in the 80s and called it something much better "ram raiding". If it really is new try starting a business installing concrete/metal bollards in front of shops so the cars can't get though or build up enough speed, you'll make a fortune.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon

        Re: "Shopping" is the latest crime thing here

        I'm guessing that it isn't really new in the US. If it is then at least we have sent them something in return for the all the shite we've had to endure from the US.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Shopping" is the latest crime thing here

        The Target store up the road from here has those bollards right in front of the store. I'm so used to seeing anti-terrorist barriers that I never thought anything about "why" it's there.

      3. Mark 85

        Re: "Shopping" is the latest crime thing here

        Well, you may have had this that long ago, but the folks doing it usually are not up to date on such things since they don't read the papers or the Internet.... if they can still read at all after using some of those drugs available on the street.

  3. mfritz0

    Stolen Copper

    Back in the 70s the Naval base at Long beach had a problem with stolen copper ship power cables. They contacted the local scrap metal dealers and got hold of their records of sails and got signatures of all the culprits. All it took was some due diligence and some footwork and these thieves were nabbed.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: Stolen Copper

      "Naval base", "records of sails "

      Was that intentional?

  4. Fatman

    Verizon's "copper thefts"

    I find it somewhat incredible that Verizon is complaining about copper theft, since they are so eager to get rid of that copper once they have tricked suckered induced their customers into switching to FiOS. They also lament about 'cord cutters' (like me) who have given up a copper land line, and exclusively use a cell phone.

    They must be awash in excess copper pars due to the 'cord cutters', and Verizon would have to pay to remove that old cable. (In my area some of that cable is nearly 70 years old,) I would not doubt that Verizon has in old, established service areas, some of that old paper insulated, lead sheathed cable that requires a bottle of nitrogen gas pressurizing the line in order to keep the water out. The continued use of this old plant requires a periodic visit by a Verizon maintenance technician to replenish the gas bottle.

    These copper thieves are doing Verizon a favor in removing old antiquated cable from service, allowing Verizon to increase shareholder value by not having to pay the removal costs.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Verizon's "copper thefts"

      If you don't have a landline how do you find your mobile when you mislay it?

      1. dan1980

        Re: Verizon's "copper thefts"

        Get you partner to call it? Or, you know, look? (That's what I do - no land line here either.)

  5. Tom 13

    California, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia

    How odd. All states with high illegal immigrant populations. Couldn't be a connection now could there?

    1. Eddy Ito

      Re: California, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia

      Probably not.

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