Northeast Cobb has seen its share of copper theft crime. In February 2011, a Blackwell Lane resident interrupted a man stealing an AC unit. The community experienced a rise in air conditioning unit thefts in March. In November, Marietta police arrested one of two suspects involved in copper wiring theft at a vacant Cobb Industrial Dr. warehouse.
Northeast Cobb's rise in copper theft crime reflects a larger problem in Georgia, which has the third highest number of metal theft claims in the nation, according to a March 2012 report by the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
The report reviewed metal theft claims from Jan. 1, 2009 through Dec. 31, 2011 and identified 25,083 insurance claims nationwide, compared to only 13,861 during its 2006-2008 report.
That's an 81 percent increase.
With 1,481 metal theft claims in Georgia, the state ranks behind only Ohio and Texas. Additionally, the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta area generated 823 metal theft claims, ranking it among the top Core Based Statistical Areas for metal theft claims, behind Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL (963 claims) and New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ (921 claims).
The reports states that incidents of metal thefts increased in the years leading up to the 2008 economic downturn, dropped off slightly, then began rising again in August 2009 driven by rising prices for base metals, especially copper.
"Thieves have been willing to go to almost any length to obtain the metal. They have stripped sheets of metal from building rooftops, stolen memorial decorations from cemeteries, ripped apart air conditioners for the copper coils within, and stripped homes and buildings of wiring and piping," the report says, adding that construction sites and farm equipment are also frequent targets.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, "Individuals can 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."
Anyone with information concerning metal theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422), texting keyword “fraud” to TIP411 (847411) or visiting www.nicb.org. Additionally, iPhone and iPad users can download the NICB Fraud Tips app.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau's full report is attached to this article as a PDF.