Cooper theft epidemic_levels


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Cooper theft epidemic_levels

  1. 1. Julie’s Fresh Air » Copper Theft At Epidemic Levels Julie’s Fresh Air Thought-provoking conversation on Rural America, Country Life, Good Food and Intentional Living q Home Copper Theft At Epidemic Levels March 13, 2007 q About Editor’s note: Originally written for Arizona Agriculture, this article highlights the Press infrastructure struggle agriculture along with a few other industries is having q right now. Arizona’s situation is spotlighted but is not alone in the copper theft epidemic. q Contact By Julie Murphree Book q Huge worldwide demand for copper and simply an easy heist is triggering thieves across the state of Arizona to steal copper from construction and well sites, irrigation pumps, electrical lines and even new homes under construction. With the utilities, construction and agriculture industries getting hit the hardest, Julies book, "Fresh Air" Arizonans are beginning to put up a coordinated fight. is now available. Learn more here! Copper Wire Search During testimony to the Committee On Natural Resources and Public Safety (1 of 13)12/13/2007 5:59:26 AM
  2. 2. Julie’s Fresh Air » Copper Theft At Epidemic Levels January 31st, Maricopa County Farm Bureau President Steven Bales, Jr. said, “Copper theft is not a new issue for agriculture, but I must tell you it has rapidly escalated into an epidemic.” As a full-time farmer on the west side from Liberty, Arizona, and director of a Go local bank and Farm Board member, Bales emphasized to the committee he was speaking as a farmer. Highlighting Arizona’s agriculture infrastructure, “Irrigation is our life blood,” he said, “and our pumps and wells are being stripped of copper.” With no way to capture replacement costs not counting lost opportunity costs, dollar losses are hard to come by. In the agriculture industry alone, 2006 copper theft estimates and replacement costs are running in to the millions of dollars. Categories Said Bales during testimony; “It is not simply the theft of copper that creates problems for farmers. Other and more extensive property damage is created as a result of the theft. Fences are cut for the thieves to obtain access. Sturdy chain link fences are cut or backed over. Motors must be rewound, panels are stripped, bearings and transformers pulled down and stripped, oil drip lines cut and removed. Debris is scattered. q General “Secondly, the stripping causes much ancillary damage. In mid-January a neighbor had $12,000 damage caused to a single well, motor and pump, while the thieves made off with a couple of hundred dollars worth of copper wire.” q What’s Cookin’ Utilities identify with the same point that while the copper theft itself may only be in the hundreds of dollars, infrastructure replacement costs run into the thousands of dollars. For this industry, the average theft runs $1,000 to $2,000 q Success but the average replacement cost runs $50,000. George Diaz, Jr. with APS said during testimony at the same hearing as Bales, “The copper thefts go beyond costs to destabilizing our [utilities] systems.” Diaz q Roots comments later prompted one committee member to signal concern over the security risks this could place on Arizona. (2 of 13)12/13/2007 5:59:26 AM
  3. 3. Julie’s Fresh Air » Copper Theft At Epidemic Levels Bales testimony also addressed the ongoing loss that no one estimates. “The q Lifestyle Tips actual damage and costs of replacement are only the beginning of the costs. In agriculture, down wells mean delays in irrigation and crop losses. I appreciate that other sectors also experience costly repairs and delays. Depending upon the industry sector some of these delays can be made up and some not. But in agriculture, crop losses cannot be recovered. So while the actual theft is small, q Supply Chain the resulting costs to agriculture are enormous.” To noticeably understand this point, go no further than DeWayne Justice, a Waddell, Arizona citrus grower and cattle rancher and also Arizona Farm Bureau q God’s Globe board member. During the recent winter freeze a few months ago, Justice planned to protect his citrus tress from freezing by irrigating his trees; called “frost” watering to elevate the temperature in the orchard. When he went to turn on the water, thieves had stripped the copper wiring from his pump. Normal evaporation from the water would have kept temperatures higher thereby q Lists preventing freeze. As a result, Justice lost two years worth of production from his citrus since the freeze killed this year’s citrus and also killed new growth that produces the citrus in the following year. Justice’s pump replacements costs will run $15,000. His crop losses will run in the tens of thousands of dollars. “All of this for maybe a couple $100 worth of copper taken by the thief,” says Justice. Archive The stories of copper theft in just the agriculture industry go on and on. As of one month ago, Roosevelt Irrigation District reported 25 wells down out of 50 west of the Agua Fria. Buckeye Irrigation District has had 131 wells vandalized in the past 12 months – 79 since mid-year. They have 35 wells currently down and have incurred costs of almost $250,000 in a year’s time. With copper theft occurring around the clock by police estimates, these numbers don’t take into account copper thefts occurring as this publication goes to press. q December 2007 To help combat the copper thefts, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has made catching copper thieves a priority, setting up a hotline (602.876.1000) in January and creating a reward fund for information leading to arrests and convictions. q November 2007 (When Arizona Agriculture checked this number, it appears to be the main switchboard number and the weekend operator kept asking to “please repeat your request.”) (3 of 13)12/13/2007 5:59:26 AM
  4. 4. Julie’s Fresh Air » Copper Theft At Epidemic Levels q October 2007 “Since the tip hotline was implemented, our telecommunications operators have received several calls that have provided investigative leads and information about copper thefts,” says Arpaio. “However, we need more callers and tips.” q September 2007 Arpaio belives that the thefts can be pushed back adding, “My sheriff’s deputies are making arrests and bringing some of our cases to successful conclusions.” q August 2007 The Phoenix police department actually has four metal-theft detectives on staff. They report 12,000 transactions per month of copper and non-ferrous metals being sold in Phoenix alone. Because of current law, there’s no way of telling whether a metals transaction is legitimate or not. q July 2007 But when looked at statewide, the problem appears insurmountable. Throughout the state you hear about thieves sawing down power poles, rolling over fences, and much more. “We can’t keep up,” says Bales. “It’s beginning to look like we cannot meet irrigation schedules when the season begins in earnest. q June 2007 Wells are spread out over wide geographical areas and become cost prohibitive for police to monitor especially when their top priorities involve tracking down violent criminals. Even surveillance cameras set up to capture thieves in the act q May 2007 have been stolen. Additionally, thefts are occurring in daylight hours. q April 2007 According to county sheriffs offices, the typical thief is a drug addict. Those that have been caught are soon released. q March 2007 And because of this, Sheriff Arpaio and others suggest that attacking the problem goes beyond law enforcement. “My belief is that effort on everyone’s part is required in order to stem the problem. My deputies will do their part in combating copper thefts, and to help them, I will support legislation that will help resolve the problem of copper thefts,” says Arpaio. q February 2007 (4 of 13)12/13/2007 5:59:26 AM
  5. 5. Julie’s Fresh Air » Copper Theft At Epidemic Levels Jim Bechtel, Pinal County farmer and chair of the newly formed Copper Theft Committee says, “I don’t know any farmer or irrigation district that has wells and pumps that have not been hit.” q January 2007 Bechtel’s estimate of infrastructure loss in Pinal County is $10 million. “Pinal County’s agriculture infrastructure has been devastated,” he adds. q December 2006 No Easy Answer, No Easy Solution q November 2006 “We’ll continue to do what we can at the point of the theft,” says Bales, “but I am afraid it’s a losing proposition. Increasing law enforcement resources would certainly help, but again due to the wide geographic spread I have my doubts.” q October 2006 Bales, Bechtel and other agriculturalists support increased legislation requiring validation of seller identification at scrap metal and recycling facilities where most of the stolen copper is sold. Additionally, they’d like to see legislation that required information as to manifest and seller’s right to have possession of the materials being sold, and payments to sellers by check, which would heave to be mailed to actual addresses. Bales, along with others, even suggests that a time period between delivery and payment of the copper be established to allow appropriate checking and tracking by law enforcement. “This is more effective than trying to chase the thieves after the fact.” Bechtel’s Copper Theft Committee formed for this very reason to develop strategies that go beyond enforcement to a legitimate tracking system to stop the thieves at the point of sale. “By creating tougher laws regarding the transport and sale of copper we take away the economic incentive to steal this commodity,” says Bechtel. Many suggest legislation be designed that mimics an already-existing tracking system used by the livestock commission, where an inspection certificate has to be mandated for the sale and trade of any copper or precious metal commodity, (5 of 13)12/13/2007 5:59:26 AM
  6. 6. Julie’s Fresh Air » Copper Theft At Epidemic Levels beginning at its site of origin. Such a certificate then follows the item throughout every point of sale, no matter where in the state the sale takes place. If a tracking-based system was sent through the Arizona legislature, it would prohibit the purchase of copper without a certificate attached, which in turn, helps local law enforcement and courts track and build cases for prosecution more effectively. Blogroll Concludes Bales, “Farmers manage many risks and yet we remain optimists, always believing next year to be better. Right now, I know this next year will not be better. The situation is an epidemic, and we need legislative intervention.” National Corn q Growers This article first appeared in the March 2007 issue of Arizona Agriculture Association Solutions Under Review to Stop Copper Theft in Arizona q Require adequate time between delivery of the copper (and other metals) and payment for law enforcement to examine, at least on a spot check basis, the transaction. Once the copper or metal is gone q Best Food Nation the chain of evidence is lost. q Require all payments to be made by check to a physical address for tracking purposes. q q Create better and more targeted and narrowed photo identification of the seller and the delivery vehicle. q Require a proper manifest to accompany the copper, when delivered q so there is a possible trace, with the copper tagged at the yard until sold. Currently, law enforcement is on shaky ground if they stop a pick-up truck with a load of shiny new-stripped wire. q Turn the manifest into a license with a fee attached so additional law D2 Web Design q enforcement can be funded. This solution is similar to the current cactus or livestock license and fee. q Increase the penalties for these crimes to include damage caused (e.g. $150 worth of copper stolen created $15,000 worth of damages, and National Cotton q then subsequent crop loss of an additional $25,000). Council (6 of 13)12/13/2007 5:59:26 AM
  7. 7. Julie’s Fresh Air » Copper Theft At Epidemic Levels q Provide additional resources for law enforcement. We can pass all the laws in the world, but if there is no money for oversight, the problem is not addressed. q Cotton Counts q Agriculture in the Classroom q Posted in : General q Author : freshair Brent Murphree Comments» q 1. CARMEN CARMONA - September 27, 2007 WE HAVE A WORKING SOLUTION TO THE COPPER WIRE q Project Food, Land THEFT OF LIGHTING POLES AND JUNCTION BOXES…TAKE & People A MOMENT AND GO TO www.LIGHTINGSECURITYPRODUCTS. COM q Cooking With Amy message q Center for Global name email Food Issues url say it! q Cottons Journey (7 of 13)12/13/2007 5:59:26 AM
  8. 8. Julie’s Fresh Air » Copper Theft At Epidemic Levels q Feeds q Full q Comments (8 of 13)12/13/2007 5:59:26 AM
  9. 9. Julie’s Fresh Air » Copper Theft At Epidemic Levels q Admin On This Day: Thursday December 13, 2007 from Reference.com (9 of 13)12/13/2007 5:59:26 AM
  10. 10. Julie’s Fresh Air » Copper Theft At Epidemic Levels Word of the Day: cacophony Latest News from Ban Ki-moon alarmed by upsurge in DR Congo fighting (AFP) Clinton Adviser: Thu, 13 Obama Drug Use Dec 2007 06:51:46 Concern GMT The Senator and the The Arizona Slugger Republic Thu, 13 Dec 2007 06:00:00 EST Analysis: Debate The Arizona Republic Thu,GOP Belies Fierce 13 Dec 2007 06:00:00 EST Race Montrose was key to The Arizona Wanda Adams Republic Thu, 13 Dec District D victory 2007 06:00:00 EST (10 of 13)12/13/2007 5:59:26 AM
  11. 11. Julie’s Fresh Air » Copper Theft At Epidemic Levels Final Iowa debate shows flux among HoustonChronicle. com Thu, 13 Dec GOP 2007 06:00:00 EST q © 2006 Julie’s Fresh Air q Binary Moon River Oaks to host q Created with WordPress Rudy Giulianis HoustonChronicle. q Top com Thu, 13 Dec campaign 2007 06:00:00 EST q Visitors = eXTReMe q Tracker Report: Iraqis Who HoustonChronicle. Worked for Britain q com Thu, 13 Dec Denied Resettlement 2007 06:00:00 EST q in UK Voice Of and Diarrhea Cholera America Thu, 13 Dec Outbreaks Hit 2007 06:00:00 EST Harares Mabvuku and Tafara Suburbs Voice Of America Kibaki Dec Kenyas Thu, 13 Promises Corruption- 2007 06:00:00 EST Free Government if Re-Elected (11 of 13)12/13/2007 5:59:26 AM
  12. 12. Julie’s Fresh Air » Copper Theft At Epidemic Levels Voicemilitarys Africa U.S. Of America Thu, 13 Dec command alarms aid 2007 06:00:00 EST workers UN wont take up Iran Reuters Thu, 13 Dec sanctions in 2007 2007 06:12:02 -0500 (AP) Paulson says U.S., China agree to fight Thu, 13 Dec 2007 05:01:22 protectionism GMT Let the Reuters Thu, 13 Dec (endorsement) dance 2007 04:25:30 -0500 begin UN to keep staff in Algeria after attack Thu, 13 Dec 2007 03:45:09 (AP) GMT GOP Hopefuls In Iowa Restrained Thu, 13 Dec 2007 02:21:11 Debate GMT (12 of 13)12/13/2007 5:59:26 AM
  13. 13. Julie’s Fresh Air » Copper Theft At Epidemic Levels Democrats Blaming Each Other For CBS News Thu, 13 Failures Dec 2007 01:34:02 EST In Iowa, a Scrambling The Washington Lesson for Clinton Post Thu, 13 Dec 2007 00:00:00 EST The Washington Report To Detail Post Thu, 13 Dec Drug Use In Baseball 2007 00:00:00 EST Analysis: Debate The Washington Post Thu, 13GOP belies fierce Dec 2007 00:00:00 EST race (AP) Thu, 13 Dec 2007 00:53:13 GMT (13 of 13)12/13/2007 5:59:26 AM