Copper Theft Insurance Claims Soar
By Michael W. Kahn | ECT Staff WriterPublished: March 27th, 2012
A new insurance industry report confirms what electric cooperatives, phone companies, breweries and many individuals have been all too aware of: Metal theft is on the rise.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau tallied figures for 2009 through 2011. During those three years, 25,083 insurance claims were filed for stolen aluminum, brass, bronze or copper. A whopping 96 percent were for copper theft.
The number of claims jumped 81 percent from an earlier NICB report covering 2006 through 2008. NICB is a not-for-profit organization that works to detect and prevent insurance fraud.
“The thieves can endanger the safety of themselves and those in the surrounding community, and weaken the infrastructure vital to our everyday lives,” NICB wrote in its report.
“Unoccupied buildings have exploded due to gas lines being stolen, stretches of highway have been left dark after thieves stole wiring from utility poles, and tornado warning sirens have been rendered inoperable due to wiring being stolen.”
Ohio leads the nation with 2,398 metal theft claims. Texas is hot on its heels with 2,023. The top five is rounded out by Georgia (1,481), California (1,348) and Illinois (1,284).
On the other end of the spectrum, Alaska saw just three claims in three years, while Wyoming had four, and North Dakota and South Dakota had five each.
Among major metropolitan areas, Chicago had 963 metal theft claims to lead the nation, followed by New York (921), Atlanta (823), Dallas-Fort Worth (674) and Detroit (587).
NICB validated what electric co-ops and other utilities have long been saying: that the value of the stolen copper is often dwarfed by the damage tally.
“Frequently the damage caused by such thefts is several times the value of the metal stolen,” the report said, “leaving the victims with hefty repair costs which are often passed on to insurance companies.”