Railway copper thefts rise with price of metal

Posted on June 3, 2015

Photo courtesy N.Y. MTA
Photo courtesy N.Y. MTA

NEW YORK CITY — Last week's massive heist of copper cable stripped from the New York City Transit rails in the middle of the night, was "a money-making crime," New York Police Department officials said, according to the Associated Press.

The power cable was presumably stolen to be sold as scrap. At least 500 feet of the valuable cable was discovered stolen from roughly 12 locations along the A train tracks near Howard Beach, and some signal equipment and track components were damaged as well by electrical current that could not flow through the cable.

Copper, which now hovers at $3 a pound on the scrap market compared to about 80 cents a decade ago, is essential to the running of commuter railways, carrying electrical power from substations to the live third rail, the report said.

Insurance claims for metal thefts across the country have skyrocketed from about 13,000 from 2006 to 2008 to about 25,000 from 2009 to 2011, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which tracks such thefts, though not specifically for rails. Nearly 96% of the more recent claims were for copper, according to the AP report.

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