Law enforcement is calling it a crime of opportunity. The price of copper is at sky high prices, which means those in search of a quick buck are looking for the metal anywhere they can find it.
In the last year alone the price of copper has increased by more than 50% to about $3.30/lb. Copper is a common in piping and fittings, making construction sites popular targets for theft, a phenomenon that is going across the country and right here in Northern Nevada. The Tahoe Reno Industiral Park has lost about a half million dollars worth of copper.
Theives are using salvage yards to redeem the stolen metal. Because the copper has been stripped down it is very hard to identify. Authorities are asking that construction sites beef up security.
But the thefts are not just at construction sites. Sierra Pacific Power says portions of its power transmission lines have copper in them. Over this summer the company has seen a small series of rip offs, but recently someone tapped into a large back up line between Verdi and Truckee and stole nearly 50,000 dollars in copper.