Metal theft is a common risk factor many businesses face, and copper theft, in particular, has become one of the more prevalent types of crime in this regard.
Why is copper theft such a major issue? For one thing, the value of copper has gone up in recent years. For example, the daily COMEX price of copper per pound opened at over $3.50 in 2021 and has seen a high of $4.76 as of this writing. Obviously, copper’s increased value (even as scrap metal) has made it a more attractive target for thieves.
In addition, there is a great demand for copper, especially from developing nations such as China and India. This steady demand has led not only to the creation of a robust international copper trade, but also to the emergence of gangs, crime syndicates, and embezzlers who desire to exploit this demand for personal gain.
The bottom line is that copper theft is becoming more common with each passing day. With that in mind, what can you do to protect your business from this threat? Below, we share 4 tips that can help.
1. USE SUBTERFUGE TO MAINTAIN PRIVACY
Privacy is one of the core principles of an effective security system. Put simply, when copper thieves don’t know that your business has large quantities of copper to steal, they won’t make it a target.
One of the most simple yet effective ways to maintain privacy around your copper components is to paint them black, thus making them appear to be regular (relatively worthless) tubing instead of valuable pieces of metal.
2. PUT PHYSICAL BARRIERS AROUND YOUR COPPER
Areas that house items containing copper are an obvious target for break-ins. Based on the item’s value, you may find that a fence or other type of physical barrier is worth the investment. For instance, copper is used in heat exchangers in many high-efficiency air conditioning units in commercial buildings. That said, the amount of copper in these units isn’t worth much. Rather, the true cost comes from units being rendered inoperable (due to theft) and the length of time it takes to replace them.
3. INSTALL ALARMS AND SECURITY CAMERAS
Installing alarms is one of the best ways to deter any potential thieves — and you may just catch them in the act, too. There are many alarm systems available (hard-wired, wireless, professionally monitored, etc.).
Choosing the right one will depend on where the copper is located, what items contain copper, and how much you can (and should) reasonably invest in a security system. For cooling and heating units, you may want to choose an alarm that’s triggered when the unit stops working, for example.
In addition, surveillance cameras may help law enforcement officials identify the thieves in the event of a break-in. Perhaps, the greatest value well-positioned security cameras can offer is their ability to deter potential criminal acts in the first place. Deterrence is the first element in the U.K.’s Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) methodology, and as such should always be considered a top priority when designing any security plan. In practical terms, the visible presence of surveillance cameras around the perimeter of your business may encourage copper thieves to look for an easier target elsewhere.
4. EMPLOY A PROFESSIONAL SECURITY FIRM
No physical security system is complete without the presence of experienced professionals to monitor the premises on a 24/7 basis. Contracting with a reputable security firm can greatly reduce your risk of copper theft. It can also provide the peace of mind that comes from knowing your business is in good hands.
Studies show that security companies are in high demand. In 2020, private security comprised a $240 billion dollar global industry, a number greater than the GDP of 100 countries. And, in three countries (China, India, and the United States), private security guards outnumbered police officers. Currently, the United States has over 1.1 million private security guards but only 666,000 police officers.
As the global marketplace evolves, the need for private security will increase. If you’d like to learn more about how to implement effective security measures as a safeguard against copper theft, reach out to our team of experts today. We’d be happy to help you find a solution that aligns with your needs and budget.