Risk of copper wire thefts in areas of construction

Posted at 6:11 PM, Oct 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-02 20:11:46-04

A growing Treasure Valley means an uptick in construction and these sites are a  target for crime. 

"They had stolen about $350 worth of copper wires before us arriving," said Deputy Chief of Police for Meridian Tracy Basterrechea. 

Meridian PD arrested three people in connection to stealing copper wire from a construction site in Meridian Monday morning. This type of theft is growing more challenging to patrol. 

"It makes it so hard for us to cover the entire city as well as cover a lot of these construction sites and keep those properties safe," said Basterrechea. 

Police say typically thieves take metal scraps to recycling facilities for quick cash. 

"They take them to recycling places so that way they can get paid for that copper wire that they're recycling and really the number 1 thing we're seeing is these are drug-related crimes," said Basterrechea. 

However, recycling facilities are good at sniffing out stolen metals.

"Looks like a fish, smells like a fish, it usually is a fish. You can tell," said the owner of Recycle Boise Chester Conklin. 

Recycle Boise says it does happen but it's not as big an issue since the price drop of copper in 2013. 

"All metal prices went up really high through 2012 China was really working on infrastructure a lot of material when they slowed down the market slowed down, and we're back to where we are today," said Conklin. 

While the rate has gone down nationally, local areas booming with growth and construction are always at a higher risk. 

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, copper theft has decreased nationally by more than 60% since 2014, but local recycling facilities are still taking measures to ensure they're not receiving stolen scraps. 

They're required to keep a photocopy of the ID and license plate of anyone recycling more than $20 worth of metal.