Metal Thefts on the Decline, Missouri Still Among Hardest Hit

In a dramatic drop-off that extends a multi-year trend, insured metal theft claims in 2015 were down 23 percent from 2014 levels and 29 percent over the past two years.

According to a report today from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), in 2013, a total of 13,626 metal theft claims were processed. That number dropped by seven percent to 12,621 in 2014 and took a 23 percent decline in 2015 to 9,692 - a total reduction of 29 percent over the past two years.

During this three-year period, 35,961 insurance claims for the theft of copper, bronze, brass or aluminum were handled - 35,134 of them (98 percent) involving copper. When copper theft claims frequency is compared to the monthly average price of copper, there is a statistically-significant correlation between the two.

While the slowdown in thefts is encouraging, dangerous copper theft incidents continue to occur from Hawaii to Indiana to Massachusetts.

The top five states for metal theft claims over this period were Ohio (4,042), Pennsylvania(2,819), New Jersey (2,585), New York (2,101) and Texas (1,833). Missouri ranked 15th on the list (1,017) and 12th in claims per 100,000 residents.

While overall public awareness of these kinds of crimes helps to motivate consumers as to the steps they can take to protect themselves and their property, credit also belongs with the various state legislatures and municipalities that have enacted tough laws in recent years as a direct response to copper and other metal thefts. Many of these laws require scrap yards and other buyers of metal to document the transaction and require proof of identity to discourage thieves from trying to cash in.

There is a normal lag between legislation enactment and intended results. The laws passed in recent years may now be bearing fruit. Still, individuals need to do their part to prevent these kinds of thefts by simply being vigilant in their neighborhoods and business communities. If dwellings remain unoccupied for extended periods of time, they become magnets for unlawful behaviors. Wire stripping is among the activities that are routinely discovered in these locations.

Not only is wire stripping illegal, it can be a deadly decision. There continues to be a number of cases nationally which have resulted in serious injury or death by electrocution while vandalizing electric substations. Metal theft can also affect to the reliability of electric services due to surges, fires, explosions or outages. Furthermore, it jeopardizes the safety of the public and electric company employees.

The full study is available for download here: 
https://www.nicb.org/File%20Library/Public%20Affairs/Metal-Theft-Claims--Jan-1--2013---Dec-31--2015-.pdf