This article is part of an ISRI News series on building awareness of current trends in metals theft.

As copper prices continue to rise with demand, increases in theft will occur. Copper wire and telecommunications wire theft are reported several times a day on ISRI’s theft tracking website, Members can take steps now to become aware of copper theft.

According to industry trends in the commodities markets, copper will continue to increase in demand to support a heightened international electrification infrastructure and a focus on lowering fossil fuel usage. Copper prices are expected to rise alongside demand as copper is essential to electric vehicles (EVs).

ISRI’s can help in in many ways. In a recent example, ISRI received a request through to assist in the prevention of copper thefts from a city in California. City officials requested proposals and measures to help with theft prevention. The city was experiencing an abundance of copper wire theft from streetlights that increased sixfold in the past five years. The theft caused a backlog in repairs and neighborhoods were without light.

The industry should be diligent to ensure it is helping be part of the prevention of materials theft. Those working in the industry must be familiar with the laws and regulations in their respective states regarding the purchase of copper materials. Telecommunication wire is illegal to purchase in most states unless purchased from a person authorized to sell on behalf of a utility or other approved commercial entity. If it is legal where you are doing business, you must use extra scrutiny when purchasing the telecommunication wire and ask questions inquiring where the person received the wire.

All recycled materials facilities are encouraged to utilize and provide the alerts to attendants at scales in order to be on the lookout for suspicious materials, or those matching the materials in the alert. When recognized, local law enforcement must be contacted. Ideally, industry members should have existing, or be in the process of building, relationships with local law enforcement. Relationships help law enforcement more easily provide your facility representatives with contacts and information as well as inform on how law enforcement in your area will want your organization to handle the materials that are suspicious or stolen. Every state and local area is different when it comes to preventing and properly handling metals theft and prevention.

By fostering relationships in advance, recycled materials industry representatives can be in-the-know on the details and expectations from local law enforcement. ISRI believes it is imperative to work together with law enforcement to build trust to help prevent the theft of these materials. ISRI’s Director of Law Enforcement Outreach Todd Foreman,, can help arrange a visit to your area and inform you on local events and trends. Todd is available to members to encourage strong industry and law enforcement partnerships or answer any questions you may have. He can assist in contacting your local law enforcement agency to make introductions if you are in need of assistance.

When trends of material are detected, ISRI will provide as much information to members as possible to help prevent the theft and keep you informed.