Copper thefts on the rise – a new threat to vacant homes for sale or rent

The local NWMLS has posted a notice to its members that I’ve pasted in below:


Snohomish County Copper Pipe Thefts
January 19, 2007. NWMLS has received reports that copper piping has been cut away and stolen from the crawl spaces under several vacant homes in the Everett vicinity. Many of these crawl spaces were not secure, allowing easy access. A police report has been filed with Everett city police (Case #DD071461). Please notify local law enforcement if you see any suspicious activity.

For those that don’t know the price of copper has skyrocketed and there are many people stealing copper (and other metals) from locations like vacant houses. Recyclers typically don’t verify the source of where these scrap metals come from so it’s up to homeowners to be careful and make sure their properties are kept safe.

This isn’t just a local issue to Everett, it’s a problem throughout Puget Sound and nationwide. My parents own rental properties in Kansas and they were the victim of just such a theft from one of their vacant rental units this past fall. It cost them a lot of money to replace all the copper piping in the house, and unforeseen expense that can wreak havoc on annual profits from rental ownership.

24 thoughts on “Copper thefts on the rise – a new threat to vacant homes for sale or rent

  1. That might be the case but there is also a secondary issue with some of this – meth. It may sound like a stretch but many people that are addicted to meth and who are looking for other ways to get money to buy it some of the stealing is being attributed to this other epidemic.

  2. The Tim –
    I find it interesting that your still propogating the housing bubble myth. It’s my experience that real estate is local. I don’t claim to be an expert on Seattle real estate, but I know we haven’t had any sort of downturn here in Leavenworth and Lake Wenatchee. Do you know something I don’t about impending doom in my real estate market?

  3. Funny you mentioned this… I have a huge jar of pennies I have been saving. I have been meaning to take them to the bank for nearly a year but being in economics class, and learning that it costs more than a penny to make a penny, I haven’t decided to cash them in or try to take advntage of holding on to them a while.

  4. Geordie,

    I’d prefer to keep the comments on-topic. This post is about copper prices, which have been on the decline since last summer, which incidentally is the dateline on the copper price article Reba linked to in the post (06/05/2006). You’ll notice that the date on my link is a bit more recent (this month).

    If you really want to debate the housing bubble, I gladly welcome you to come on over to my site. Please just make sure you read the posts on the sidebar under “read these posts” before you bring out anti-bubble myths of your own.


  5. It’s appreciated – the post really is more about copper pipes being stolen from vacant homes and notifying the public that they need to be careful about their properties. I’ll edit the title.

  6. For the record, I didn’t say that copper theft wasn’t an issue. I said it wasn’t likely to continue to be an issue, because contrary to the (original) title of the post “Copper values on the rise,” copper prices are actually declining, and have been for a good while. That’s all.

  7. LTD is a builder too. Up by Judkins where we’re building a 4 plex, our guys left for a 20 minute lunch and came back to the house and all the copper was pulled. In a 5 plex we’re building, they broke in and took all the appliances overnight. Yuck!! And yes, Reba, I agree, it’s related to drugs. Quick turn money. What’s next? I was at Barnes and Noble on sunday and a woman was offering a gift card for sale. I assume that she picked up a book off the shelf, turned it in without a receipt, sold the gift card, and pocketed the cash. Slick, so be careful with this scam, too. (off topic but this was one I hadn’t seen before)

  8. Pingback: Appalling Statistics | Rain City Guide | A Seattle Real Estate Blog...

  9. There is a solution to some of the copper theft. There is an alarm that can help protect your air conditioning and copper pipes. It is very effective for vacant homes. Copper may have come down in price, but the typical thief, is still going to steal. They may have to steal twice as much as before, but the copper in air conditioning is endless. It is in every back yard, roof tops, and vacant homes. It isn’t going to stop. But if you want to protect your investment, visit www.

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