A falling economy and a surge in the price of metals have fueled a wave of copper thefts. Farmers are loosing wiring to irrigation pumps, churches have been stripped of their roofs and downspouts, and building sites have ransacked for spools of wire. The foolhardy even target transformer substations, often with tragic results. Copper prices have risen from 80 cents per pound in 2003 to $4.00 per pound today.
This is a world wide problem, but affects the developing world even more. China reported 190,000 incidents of theft of telecom facilities in 2006. African telecom operators are abandoning fixed line networks and switching to wireless. Other metals are also targets of the thieves. In Czech Republic a 4 ton railway bridge was stolen.
States are taking action with bills that require scrap recycling companies to keep records of the drivers license numbers and telephone numbers of everyone who sells to them.