Since 2008, insurance claims for metal theft have ballooned by 81 percent, with more than 25,000 reported between Jan. 2009 and Dec. 2011, according to a new report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Ohio, Texas and Georgia led the states with the highest metal theft claims, with California, Illinois rounding out the top five.
What thieves want:
Cataclyitc Converters. These valuable car parts are usually sold to recyclers for $15 or $30 a pop. They pack precious metals like palladium, platinum and rhodium, NICB spokesman Frank Scafidi told Your Money, and recyclers aren’t exactly prone to asking questions when suspects turn up toting truckloads of the things.
Copper. You might want to keep an eye on your A/C unit, which is chockful of copper, usually hidden by shrubbery and therefore a prime target for thieves.
“Most homes built after the 60s all have copper wiring and many still have copper wire supply lines,” Scafidi said. “If there’s no one living in the place and all utilities are shut down, somebody could get in there and rip that stuff right out of the walls without too much trouble.”
Your best defense:
Thieves are typically drawn to homes that are deserted–making areas with high foreclosure rates easy targets.
If you’re planning an extended vacation, ask your neighbor to keep an eye on your property and agree to return the favor. “In my neighborhood there are homes that have been vacant for a long time as people have been foreclosed,” Scafidi said. “But we keep an eye on things.”
Report suspicious activity to law enforcement or anonymously by calling 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422). You can also text keyword “fraud” to TIP411 (847411) or visit www.nicb.org.
Mandi Woodruff|March 13, 2012