ANDERSON — Police are investigating 28 reports of copper or aluminum thefts, mostly from vacant properties, since winter.
Most recently, the Anderson Impact Center and the unoccupied North Side Middle School building were vandalized, and police are searching for suspects, according to Anderson Police Department detective Joel Sandefur. North Side had its copper lines stripped on March 30, and the Impact Center on Tuesday. The Anderson Impact Center is in the former Robinson Elementary.
“The problem is, they make pretty good targets,” Sandefur said. “There a lot of old buildings here that aren’t in use anymore, and they have lots of copper lines. Aluminum, too. We’ve been getting hit pretty hard lately.”
Though the number of reports go back to Dec. 10, when women’s shelter Alternatives Inc. near Community Hospital had its air conditioning unit vandalized, Sandefur said most of the reports have been filed in the last three weeks. He attributed the rash of thefts to convenience, and climbing temperatures as the county thaws after a particularly harsh winter.
The metals are valuable — $2.55 a pound for clean copper pipes, $2.35 for stripped or dirty copper pipes and 40 cents for aluminum — and can be sold on the black market or to scrap yards, but there are standards. State law requires anyone selling scrap metal to show a valid ID, and most scrap recycling yards will create a report on each purchase they take.
Locally, Newco Metals and Gardner Wrecking, both in Pendleton, accept the metals. Gardner Wrecking office manager Dawn Richardson said the company has a good working relationship with police, and they have worked with authorities many times on copper theft cases. She said the company follows state law on providing IDs and creates a ticket for each purchase of scrap metals.
“We get a lot of purchases of sheet iron and steel, too. Recently, a big thing is catalytic converters,” Richardson said. “There are restrictions on what people can bring in. For AC units, they need a license, unless it’s something small like a window unit.”