Instances of copper theft on the rise

Copper theft has recently increased on campus, and University Police Lieutenant Roy Acree said there is reason to think there is more than one person responsible amid hard economic times and the high price of copper.

“Last week we know that copper was bringing in at the local scrap metal companies in town $3.66 per pound,” Acree said. “People are seeing this as a way of making money.”

He also said there have been about six occurrences of copper theft since May 20, but there seems to be no pattern.

“There is no particular place on campus that they’re targeting,” Acree said. “It’s just whenever they feel like there is some copper.”

Acree added that no arrests have been made in relation to copper theft, but University police are working with local scrap metal companies to narrow down suspects.

“We’ve got some ideas, it’s just a matter of catching the person while they are committing the theft or being able to identify them while they are arriving at the scrap metal companies to turn their scrap metal in,” Acree said.

For those copper thieves caught, the penalty may be even higher with the passing of House Bill 2054, which will make copper theft a “Class 4 felony for a first offense and a Class 3 felony for a second or subsequent offense.”

An amendment added to the bill “provides for incremental increases in penalties for copper theft based upon the value of the copper stolen or whether the offense was committed in a school or place of worship or if the theft was of governmental property,” according to the Illinois General Assembly website.

State Rep. David Reis, R-108, who introduced the bill, said there was an obvious need for it in Illinois.

“You can’t pick up the paper or turn on the TV without hearing about it,” said Reis, adding that the bill is necessary to serve as a deterrent against theft, since stealing copper can cause significant damage.

With the proposed law, he said the costs will outweigh the benefits for the thieves. The bill has currently stalled in the Illinois Senate, but Reis hopes it will pass soon due to the severity of the damage copper theft can cause.

“It’s the collateral stuff that’s costing so much,” Reis said.

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