Thieves targeting copper

Metal being sold to salvage yards for $4 per pound


— The Routt County Sheriff's Office is warning construction workers and building suppliers to secure their copper.

Last week, there were four separate cases of copper wire thefts from construction sites near Catamount subdivision, Sgt. Ray Birch said Monday.

It is a unique crime, Birch said, but copper theft has become more common across the United States because the price for the commodity has skyrocketed. Thieves are stealing copper and selling it to salvage yards for around $4 per pound.

"We have a limited number of salvage yards up here, but if you go the Front Range there are a lot of places that buy copper," Birch said.

About 1,400 total feet of copper wire of varying length and diameter valued at $1,700 was taken from the Catamount area construction sites. Some power tools also were taken.

The copper thefts in other parts of the country include more than wire.

In Denver some city-owned parkways and medians dried out after copper thieves nabbed irrigation fittings and valves, the Rocky Mountain News reported. It has cost the city thousands of dollars. Copper air conditioning coils were targeted at a Lexington, Ky., church. Copper gutters and downspouts were stolen in Portland, Ore., the newspaper reported.

Birch said he is concerned the thieves might become more daring in Routt County and start targeting suppliers.

"I could see them cutting through a fence and going after these spools," Birch said.

He said the sheriff's office does not have any leads yet, and the characteristics of the crimes were inconsistent. They are building a suspect and crime profile off the four Catamount thefts.

"You want to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity," Birch said.

Anyone with information can contact the sheriff's office by calling 870-5519. Routt County dispatch can be reached by calling 879-1090.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210 or e-mail


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