Recently, it has become all the rage for thieves to transcend traditional laborious hardships by stealing non-ferrous (copper, brass, aluminum, lead and other valuable scrap) metals and turning them in to recyclers for money.
The most bitter part of this pill is that it is affecting people of all classes in areas chiefly unaffected in years gone past. Air conditioners are common targets for people hoping to score valuable semi-precious metals. The immense copper coilings within the units, coupled with their out-of-doors locales make them desirable and easy marks for criminals. This destruction of coveted property is also dangerous for those involved because of the immense amount of hazardous chemicals associated with the use of air conditioners. In much of the developed world, special license is required to extract these chemicals and even then, special equipment, the least of which is around $1000 US to purchase is required, along with annual to semi-annual licensure renewals.
While the problem is rampant in the United States, it is also quickly becoming a concern in that of the United Kingdom. In early 2011, James May, co-host of BBC’s Top Gear, reported that thieves had “stolen the lead off my roof…all of it.”* Jeremy Clarkson (co-host) joked that “only [James] would be the victim of a crime from the 1950s.”* This is particularly telling, because it does seem absurd that such crimes are taking place in a world of internet thievery and hacking, but nonetheless the struggling global economy seizes to reason with conventional means of theft.
At nearly $.88 per pound (19 May, 2012)** , the lead market inspires new, unconventional thieves to even steal the roofs right off of churches in Britain***.
For Eclectic Spot, Spencer Johnston.
*Top Gear, Episode 388, 2-13-2011, BBC.
***http://www.runcornandwidnesworld.co.uk/news/9532827.Teenagers_charged_with_church_roof_lead_theft/, accessed: 5-19-2012.