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Metals - May 14

Click on the headline (link) for the full text.

Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage

Links about metal theft came from Leanan, news editor for The Oil Drum, in the May 13 DrumBeat.

Military cracks down on scrap-metal scavengers

Chelsea J. Carter, Associated Press
Hundreds of Marines were conducting a combat training mission in the Mojave Desert when an air patrol spotted something kicking up dust: A civilian pickup truck speeding across the barren landscape.

Behind the wheel was a suspected scrap metal thief who had been combing the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center for spent brass shell casings. His intrusion onto the base was the 12th time in six months that scavengers had inadvertently halted combat exercises.

Bombing ranges have become prime hunting grounds for so-called "scrappers," who are motivated by soaring commodity prices to take greater risks in their quest for brass, copper and aluminum.
(13 May 2008)

In U.S., Metal Theft Plagues Troubled Neighborhoods

Christopher Maag, New York Times
CLEVELAND - Metal scrappers have attacked churches and ransacked homes in this Midwestern city, leaving entire neighborhoods uninhabitable.

Saint Theodosius Orthodox Cathedral here lost its insurance after a thief stole copper panels from the roof years ago. Three churches in Cleveland Heights have been stripped of copper gutters. And in the last few months, three churches in the North Collinwood neighborhood were stripped of copper downspouts.

“Our neighborhoods are being pillaged, not by Vikings or Goths, but by modern-day barbarians,” said Mike Polensek, North Collinwood’s City Council member. Even manhole covers and sewer drains are being stolen out of streets to be sold as scrap metal, Mr. Polensek said.

Houses, however, are the greatest targets of commodity scavengers in the United States. Neighborhoods depopulated by the rising tide of foreclosures make easy targets.
(8 April 2008)

Some homes worth less than their copper pipes

Jason Szep, Reuters
BROCKTON, Massachusetts - Shards of broken glass outside the basement window of 31 Vine Street hint at the destruction inside the three-story home.

Thieves smashed the window to break in and then gutted the property for its copper pipes -- a crime that has spread across the United States as the economy slows and foreclosed homes stand empty and vulnerable.
(1 April 2008)

Copper theft could have been deadly

Rick Pfeiffer, CNHI News Service
NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. - It sounded like a water leak, but what was happening in the basement of a popular tavern on a busy Saturday night could have ended in tragedy.

Someone broke into 437 Third St., which houses Third Street Liquors and the Tap Room tavern, and cut both the water and natural gas lines in the basement in an attempt to steal the copper connecting pipe. The result was a basement full of water and explosive natural gas.

“Whoever did this is extremely lucky they didn’t kill themselves and others,” Niagara Falls Fire Chief William MacKay said.
(28 April 2008)

Prevent home copper-tubing theft

Phil Mulkins, Tulsa World
Dear Action Line:

Our neighbors had their air-conditioning condenser stolen while they were on a brief vacation. It was a regular-size unit on a concrete pad next to their home. Thieves also stole the wiring from its service box. They knew what they were doing and obviously worked fast. Our security service says these thieves steal condensers for their copper tubing. How can we prevent ours from being stolen? -- L.P., Catoosa.

Theft of residential copper tubing is an alarming development.

Over the past two years, law enforcement agencies and utility companies have seen a dramatic rise in the theft of copper wiring and refrigeration copper tubing from businesses and utility facilities. The destruction does $3,000 in damages for $25 worth of scrap copper.

This is being blamed on the surge in scrap copper prices brought on by Chinese demand for the metal in that country's modernization drive. In this country, some see it as a threat to national security: homegrown insurgents targeting the infrastructure, to the detriment of all.

Thieves, said to be drug addicts looking for quick-buy money, are removing the copper electric lines from Tulsa expressway lights and even entire neighborhood
streetlight systems. They have stolen wiring systems from churches and condensers from shopping mall roof tops.
(13 May 2008)

Steel once again a hot commodity

Matt Krantz, USA TODAY
Steel's recovery is certainly another example of how global demand for commodities is breathing new life into raw materials ranging from potash to wheat and corn. Steel is just one of the latest metals to get swept up in the worldwide metals boom, says David Behr of

Globalization is certainly a big reason why steel is enjoying some of its best days since Andrew Carnegie's era. Much of steel's success also speaks to how a seemingly down-for-the-count industry reinvented itself after a painful restructuring process that took decades to unfold. The key events that have polished steel in the minds of investors include:

Booming global demand. ...
(13 May 2008)

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