Worth more than just pennies: copper theft is devastating our state.

Author:Torreano, Gail

Imagine being a police officer and trying to catch a crook for stealing something which no longer exists. Or imagine being an attorney and trying to prosecute a case of theft in which there is no evidence.


Over the past two and a half years, thousands of AT&T customers have been put in dangerous situations because of copper crooks. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors have been unable to arrest and charge many of the thieves because the evidence has been sold.

As the epidemic of copper theft continues to spread in Michigan, legislation has been introduced to assist companies and law enforcement agencies in tracking down stolen materials to catch thieves.

Over the past several years, the copper cable theft epidemic has caused a tremendous amount of damage to the city of Detroit and southeast Michigan. These thefts leave Detroit-area telephone customers cut off from service - which includes being cut off from 9-1-1. Copper thieves also disable phone service for area businesses - both large and small. Those thefts cost businesses money and customers because they cannot complete credit card transactions and customers cannot reach them via telephone.

Unfortunately copper cable theft is not limited to just telephone customers. It negatively impacts electric service, the construction industry and even railroads--the critical infrastructure in our state and vital to our homeland security.

State Sen. Buzz Thomas and state Rep. Andy Meisner have been leading the charge to put "tag and hold" requirements on scrap dealers and processors. That requirements would ensure that copper is kept for a certain length of time in case it is evidence in a case of copper theft. Preserving evidence in cases of copper theft is key to helping law enforcement catch these crooks and prosecutors getting them off...

To continue reading