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According to a new report released by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) evidence exists that the national problem of metal theft might be decreasing.

The report reviews metal theft insurance claims from January 1, 2011, through December 31, 2013.

In 2011, a total of 14,676 metal theft claims were processed. The number dropped to 13,603 in 2012 and decreased again in 2013 to 10,807 – a decline of over 26 percent from 2011. During this period, 41,138 insurance claims for the theft of copper, bronze, brass or aluminum were handled – 39,976 of them (97 percent) for copper alone. When the number of metal theft claims per month and monthly average copper prices are compared, the number of claims filed is found to have a statistically significant correlation with the price of copper.

NICB’s previous report on metal theft reports Ohio ranked first of all the states generating 4,144 metal theft claims. It was followed by Texas (2,827), California (2,489), Pennsylvania (2,345) and Georgia (2,067).

The top five core based statistical areas generating the most metal theft claims were New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA (1,725); Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI (1,386); Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD (1,200); Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA (1,198) and Dallas-Ft. Worth-Arlington, TX (948).

While this report deals exclusively with submitted insurance claims, the ultimate impact of this activity falls, to some degree, on all consumers. Losses to businesses and government entities are shared with customers and taxpayers through higher costs for goods and services and/or reductions in services. Moreover, depending on the circumstances of the theft, these incidents may not generate an insurance claim, or even a police report. Consequently, comprehensive empirical data is elusive.

Public awareness often drives necessary legislative activity, which enables law enforcement to better perform its functions. In 2012, Ohio passed legislation which requires scrap metal dealers to obtain identification from scrap metal sellers and prohibits cash payments to scrap metal sellers. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a similar bill into law as did Colorado. While metal thefts continue, the downward trend shown in this latest report may be attributed, in part at least, to these cumulative efforts.

Published in the July 2014 Edition of American Recycler News