HUTCHINSON, Kan. — More and more criminals are finding out that copper thefts are an easy way to make a buck.
Five years ago, copper sold for $2 per pound. Less than two years later, it had more than doubled and that is when copper thefts became more and more common.
Today, it has dropped to $3.25 per pound, meaning that thieves aren’t making as much but that hasn’t seemed to stop them.
In fact, smaller towns like Hutchinson are seeing the crime becoming a regular thing.
When it comes to copper thieves, anyone can be a target.
“They went in and cut all the power off from the box that runs the machine and then they go right in and cut through all the copper and take it as quick as they can, and just leave behind the debris after that,” said Craig Wood, the Salvation Army store manager in Hutchinson.
Hutchinson police have two people in custody right now that they believe are responsible for stealing copper from the Salvation Army and other businesses in the area.
“Typically you can pattern certain groups based on what they’re doing, a routine and clues that they leave. You can typically develop a pattern and connect them in that way,” said Detective Jamie Schoenhoff, Hutchinson Police Department.
Several other businesses were targeted all over the downtown area.
Police say the best thing to do to keep copper wire from being stolen out of your air conditioning unit is to keep it in a wide open space so lots of people can see it and to keep it well lit at night.
“It may be an eyesore to the homeowner but you kinda gotta weigh your risk and reward,” said Schoenhoff.
Police tell KSN that more copper-stealing criminals are out there but one of the victims says that the arrests are a good start.
“I think that it’s pretty nice that they may have found the culprit that’s responsible for these. It’ll be nice to see it come through the whole process with a conviction at the end if this is the person responsible,” said Wood.
Law enforcement says one of the worst things about copper thieves is they cause thousands of dollars in damage in the process of stealing metal that is only worth a fraction of that.