A South Carolina House subcommittee began hearing testimony today from witnesses who commented on the plague of copper thefts around the Midlands and South Carolina from churches, farms, homes and businesses.
Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott urged the subcommittee to take strong action to regulate businesses that buy scrap copper to help discourage the metals easy resale.
It is a common occurrence for Columbia area homes and businesses to have their air conditioners vandalized for their copper components, Scott said.
Rep. Eddie Tallon, R-Spartanburg, spoke in favor of increasing penalties for the thieves. Also speaking were representatives of the scrap metal industry, the S.C. Sheriffs Association and farmers, whose irrigation systems have been hard-hit.
The value of copper, a semi-precious metal, is near all-time highs on the worlds commodity markets. Thieves seeking money for drugs or other items can turn a small but quick profit vandalizing air conditioning units and farm irrigation pipes. Often, thieves do thousands of dollars worth of damage just to steal a few dollars worth of copper, law officers say.