(KLTV) - One pound of scrap copper is worth about $2, a pound of copper wire is worth about 50 cents, but thieves will go out of their way to get their hands on it.
"They rip walls apart, they rip out bathtubs, they rip out toilets; just demolish the place just to get that one foot of copper,” says Lawrence Snow. “It’s just a mess, it’s thousands of dollars in damage.”
Snow is the president of C. Woods Plumbing, Heating, and Air Conditioning. He says they’re often called in to clean up the mess left behind by metal thieves, and last month they dealt with one right on their property.
"A thief came in over the weekend and just took anything of what he thought was value,” says Snow. “One specific part we use for one of our hydro jetters was almost $1,000.”
More than $15,000 in metal and other items were taken from five Tyler businesses in January and February. It’s a crime that comes with a serious punishment.
“It’s actually an upgraded charge,” says Smith County Deputy Larry Christian. “Any type of metal theft is now a state jail felony.”
Lately, potential profit has decreased; local scrap yards tell KLTV that due to the tariffs imposed on imported metals, they are making less on recycled items and therefore offering less to sellers than before.
Christian says abandoned homes, business, or buildings under construction are most often targeted. He says if your home or business is under construction you should keep the area well lit, ask neighbors to be vigilant, and take the time to check on it often.