Holy Copper Theft!

Story online today that's familiar to CSO readers: A copper theft.

But this story has an interesting twist: A priest helped nab the thief. Think general security awareness doesn't work. The story mentions that most churches in the area had already been hit, with mostly copper downspouts going missing. Only this church, St. Agnes, hadn't been victimized. The staff knew about the spree and was on "high alert." So when the priest heard noises at 10 p.m. the police came and, soon after, arrested a man for trying to tear down the copper downspouts on the sides of the church. He was arrested for receiving stolen property and is to be arraigned today.

No need for orange alerts or alarming and invasive surveillance. No need to freak everyone out. Just simple awareness: Keep your eyes and ears open. It worked.

One other note, stealing from a place of worship might seem a particularly base crime, but it seems to happen quite a bit with metal theft. In Red Gold Rush we cited several cases of churches being victimized, along with some cases of copper and brass urns at graves being taken. With metal prices still historically high, nothing is sacred.

Two reasons are likely: One, such sites aren't generally investing in security the way, say, a local manufacturing company might; perimeter razor wire is somewhat uninviting. Also, the copper theft epidemic has been tightly linked to drug usage (no word in this case if the alleged thief was high), specifically to crystal meth, a nasty stimulant that scrambles the brain's judgment and inhibition triggers.

CSO wrote about the problem, and its relationship to drugs and China, believe it or not, in Red Gold Rush. After reading, you can take the slide show tour.

    -- Scott Berinato

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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