Price of Copper Drives Up Number of Theft Cases - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Price of Copper Drives Up Number of Theft Cases

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CLARKSBURG -

There's a lot of junk in your home that's worth just as much as it looks. But there's also some deceiving value to those trash-like items.

Copper can be found in bathroom plumbing, car parts, even household electronics. With its scrap-metal appearance, most would assume little worth.

Mike Gains is the owner of Clarksburg Scrap Metals, which also operates the Harrison County Recycling Center. Gains said copper is currently worth $2.25 a pound.

"It is based on current market price, usually monthly. Although, it can change daily," said Mike Gains, owner of Clarksburg Scrap Metals.

It's been worth as little as $1.80 and as high as $3 a pound.

With that high of value and shrinking wallets, Gains said stealing it has become more attractive to thieves.

"As long as someone can achieve and collect money from something they've always stolen things. It's not something that just started overnight. But what does lead to more thefts and things of that nature is people need the money," Gains said.

Clarksburg Scrap Metals isn't blind to that. Gains said the facility has received stolen copper in the past.

"When the copper had been stolen from there, we had actually purchased it from our facility. It was scrap, not something brand new that would give a tell-tale sign that it was stolen," Gains said.

But the facility didn't know it was stolen until law enforcement came knocking.

"The authorities was able to contact us and get information that lead to a major arrest in the area," Gains said.

But like in that instance, it's not always obvious the materials were stolen.

"Plumbing that's in your house. They will actually take condemned or vacant houses. Come in, take the copper out of them. Owner comes in six months later and they have no plumbing," Gains said.

Law enforcement and places like Clarksburg Scrap Metals have quite a few standards in place to prevent those thefts.

West Virginia State Police said citizens can report copper theft by calling their local detachment or by using the website, www.scraptheftalert.com.

Look for part two of this story next week.