Thieves in the US are stealing precious metals from empty homes and selling the metals to scrap yards to suffice global demands largely fueled by hungry China. Yes, Americans are fueling Chinese appetite for copper. Home foreclosures coincides with record highs in the price of copper and other metals which means homes coast-to-coast are being stripped for copper, aluminum, and brass by thieves. Much of it ends up with scrap metal traders who say nearly all copper gets shipped overseas, much of it to China and India.
Copper and other metals used in plumbing, heating systems and telephone lines are now more valuable than some homes. To make matters worse, banks won’t lend when homes have been gutted, conversely, banks put up huge signs saying, ‘FORECLOSURE’ inviting thieves to enter empty houses.
Along with copper, he often sees air conditioners and garbage disposals torn out. At least 15 U.S. states — from California to New York — drafted legislation in the past year to deal with the problem, from tighter regulations on scrap metals’ traders to tougher penalties for metal theft, local authorities and metals industry officials say.
Scrap traders estimate that more than 80 percent of recycled copper is exported to China and India.