Many people wouldn't think of someone steeling electrical cords or rain gutters when they think of theft. Authorities are saying these types of theft crimes are increasing in Maryland because the items often contain copper. The price of copper has been increasing, making any item with that metal in it a valuable asset.
Some thefts are happening in areas where other high-price items are easily available, but copper is taken instead of other items. These thefts cause a lot of concern for law enforcement, and the community will likely increase pressure for police to act.
The theft of some wires can cause power and communication problems and disrupt emergency services. Some copper is taken by stealing electric boxes and even cell phone tower wires. If they do disrupt services, the penalty could possibly be elevated.
It is unclear how many people are accused of copper theft each year in Maryland, but with an increase in the amount of crimes and increased pressure by the public, more people are likely to face charges for theft. A new law in Maryland is even making it illegal for scrap metal companies to buy certain items that are commonly stolen for their copper.
When police act with a lot of pressure from the public, the authorities might make some mistakes that violate suspects' rights. Although these thefts might not carry a high penalty, according to news reports, people's reputations are still put on the line if they are accused of theft in Maryland.
Source: CBS Baltimore, "Dramatic Rise In Copper Thefts As Price Of Metal Skyrockets," Mike Hellgren, Feb. 23, 2012