There has been a recent surge in scrap-metal thieves attempting to cash in on copper's worth. As the recent price weakness may correct and attract more crime, the market is preparing, and lawmakers are cracking down.
By Gerelyn Terzo - Exclusive to Copper Investing NewsCopper entered the danger zone in September when it resumed bear market territory and staged a frightening drop of 25 percent. Adding insult to injury, scrap metal thieves are attempting to marginalize the value of the commodity by swiping wires and materials in the most brazen fashion. Copper theft has risen across continents as robbers seek to liquidate assets in a hurry. In the US city of Memphis, Tennessee, for instance, the occurrence of scrap-metal theft via air conditioning units skyrocketed some 515 percent this year in comparison with 2005 levels, according to The New York Times. Market participants are responding with heightened awareness and supporting ramped-up legislation that could turn the tables on criminals. Today's copper Considering copper's recent descent to market-crash levels, wavering demand and credit fears stemming from Europe, it is fair to question the near-term fate of this commodity. If prices remain under pressure, the incentive for criminal activity could diminish. Although there is no crystal ball, the only direction that copper appears poised to take is up. Traders who are cautiously optimistic about prices are drawing a distinction between copper's most recent plight and the market crash of three years ago. Today's market fundamentals appear to be on the side of the raw material. "Different to 2008, we have no sharp cancellations of orders but more a cautious approach with companies still not too negative about prospects for next year," Herwig Schmidt, Head of Sales at Triland Metals in London, told Copper Investing News. While strength and stability in copper's price are cheered, these characteristics seem to serve as an inspiration to criminal activity. Without the proper controls in place, a commodity rebound could be tainted by crime.