Scrap Copper Is $3 a Pound, So Thieves Are Ripping It Off Subway Tracks

Your commute just got that much more perilous. 

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Scrap copper prices are at an all-time high, and dirtbags have noticed. Several of them (or maybe just one enormous one) peeled 500 feet of the stuff straight from the rails of the New York subway last week, delaying commutes for hundreds of thousands of honest johns in Queens who are right now wondering how to get in on the other side of the scrap metal racket.

By targeting a stretch of track that wasn’t watched by security cameras, the daring thieves (or thief, again, until we know for sure it’s not the BFG pulling these jobs) apparently cut a hole in a nearby fence to get to the tracks. The Associated Press’s sources with the New York City transit police say it may have been an inside job. The perp(s) remain at large, where they are also now presumably livin’.

Copper theft is nothing new on the city’s 840 miles of subway tracks, but now that a pound of copper yields $3 a pound (up from 80 cents 10 years ago), certain guys, not guys I know, but maybe guys I know know a guy who knows and with whom we could be talking, if we’re really talking here, have decided to cut holes in innocent fences and take what isn’t theirs. The Queens job might’ve been worth $4,500, not bad at all for a night’s work.

Trains are run by and on conductors: The copper carries electric current from power plant substations to the system’s third rail, meaning that for no-goodniks to pull such a heist, they might face oncoming cars or electrocution. The faint of heart should look for other work, where their commutes will likely one day be disrupted by the desperate/bold lowlifes who also probably never pass a penny without picking it up.

The Associated Press notes similar metal thefts in public transportation systems in California, in Seattle, and on New York’s Long Island railroad, all yielding thousands of pounds of copper. Nationally, victims filed 25,000 insurance claims for metal theft between 2006 and 2011, 96 percent of which were for copper. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and others have proposed making infrastructure metal theft a federal crime, to require scrapyards to prove ownership over their stock, or to make scrap payments over $100 traceable through checks or money orders. At least that way it’ll be hard to get rich, even for guys willing to die trying.

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