Courts & Crime

Georgia mayor launches copper theft task force

Thieves have steadily targeted copper in Columbus as the metal’s value soared to record highs this spring. The price of copper has dropped somewhat over the past two months, but was hovering last week above $4 a pound -- up from less than $1 a pound a decade ago.

Air-conditioning units, electrical wiring and piping in unoccupied houses have proved particularly susceptible to thieves, who typically sell the metals for cash.

“I think everyone in real estate is having the same problems,” said Bill Turman, senior vice president of Turman Realty Company. “On a weekly basis, we must have four homes that are broken into. It seems like each time you put up a ‘For Rent’ sign it’s like advertising for it.”

In an effort to stem the thefts, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson has assembled a copper theft task force, a collaboration of the city’s three law enforcement agencies and local real estate managers. The team also includes a commercial developer, who has been targeted repeatedly, and the president of a local scrap metal recycling company.

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