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Threat of copper theft very high

Non-ferrous metal dealers have been warned to review security procedures, with the threat of thefts extremely high.

As various types of copper continue to rise in value amid a massive shortage in this country, any supply of the resource is being treated like gold dust.

An industry insider said: “Prices have risen by over £100/tonne again this week and with jobs quiet and not a lot of metal about; its value will continue to increase.

“I would warn traders to start reviewing security procedures as with copper at the level it is, people will be seriously looking to steal.”

At present, various grades, including new copper tube, braziery copper and greasy bright wire are trading at well over £2,000/tonne, but the greatest prize for a potential thief would be the dry bright wire type which is selling for £2,600/tonne.

The insider added: “There is a serious shortage and with the price you can get for dry bright wire per tonne, stealing just 100 kgs would prove extremely profitable for someone.

“As there is so much money involved, it will not just be the opportunists looking to steal. The more professional thieves will be alerted to the fact that there is money to be made from this industry.”

With the Easter break meaning yards could be unmanned for up to four days, events over the Christmas shutdown, where Corus’ plant in Rotherham was hit for three processed coils worth £8,000/tonne should serve as a warning.

As that raid was seemingly well-planned, dealers should not underestimate the lengths thieves will go to, especially once dealing with copper, which would not be difficult to sell on.

Sims regional commercial manager Keith Egerton said: “With the value, there are big rewards for stealing copper. The big problem is that it is fairly unrecognisable – one lot looks the same as another.

“It’s not distinctive, not like a watch or jewellery, meaning that it is very easy for a thief to get rid of. We have tightened security, but with prices so high, this kind of activity [thefts] isn’t going to be uncommon.”

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