Metal theft: A global epidemic

7:48 AM, Nov 21, 2011   |    comments
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While metal theft has directly impacted thousands of those in the Sacramento area, it is in no way confined to the valleys boundaries, or American borders for that matter.

From Africa to Europe, theft of copper, bronze, stainless steel and other metals is costing millions and forcing law makers to come up with ways to fight metal theft.

Following are accounts of copper thefts from around the world.  They are individual occurrences and in no way reflective of the extent to which metal thefts take place in these regions.

Australia - In Australia, thieves have stolen copper wiring from rail tracks, power stations and scrap metal depots.

Brunei - Brunei thieves ransacked more than 60 power stations including cables and doors from the buildings.

Canada - Copper roofing, gutters and wiring from four Quebec city churches was taken in 2010 and a a 400-pound bronze bell was stolen from a cemetery in Nova Scotia to name a few of the more prominent thefts in Canada.

Czech Republic - One of the more gruesome crimes occurring in the Czech Republic occurred when crooks stole more than 700 bronze markers from a concentration camp cemetery with the intent to melt them down.

Germany - More than three miles of unused rail track went missing in 2006, resulting in approximately 200,000 euros worth of damage.

Haiti - Looters capitalized on one of Haiti's most tragic events, the 2010 earthquake, when they tore rebar from the concrete of collapsed buildings and hacked up downed power lines.

Holland - Theft of copper cable from railroad tracks in January 2011 led to the derailment of an ICE train. Fortunately, nobody was seriously injured. 

Russia - Russian metal thieves have stolen telephone lines leading to military bases and even entire bridges.

South Africa - South Africa suffers an estimated 5 billion in damage per year due to metal theft. Copper cables, manhole covers, and bolts from city property are some of the more common items taken.  Six children have been killed in South Africa due to manhole cover thefts.

Ukraine - In Ukraine, statues, wires, sewage hatches, and even a museum-exhibit steam locomotive have been stolen for sale as scrap. In February 2004, thieves in western Ukraine dismantled and stole an 11 m long, one-ton steel bridge that spanned the river Svalyavka. Even radioactive material is not off limits, as thieves tried to smuggle 25 tons of radioactive scrap metal from Chernobyl. 

U.K. - Churches have become a popular target of British metal thieves.  Additionally, roofs, manhole covers, statues etc. have all been increasingly targeted recently.  Statues of former Olympic champion Steve Ovett, and one crafted by famous artist, Henry Moore have also been stolen for their metal.


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