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Copper and metal recycling theft


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Tennessean article about legislative efforts to curb metal theft

The attached article from the Tennessean points to some legislative efforts to thwart metal theft, particularly copper. This scourge has definitely impacted East Nashville homes and businesses, and of course has a link to our friends at the city's most visible scrap yard. I will say that a gut rehab of a house two doors down from me periodically turns into a free-for-all with people rummaging through the dumpsters and creating a mess. Scavengers already stole the pipes under the house and actually chopped off doorknobs and fixtures. Fortunately, the renovators are wisely replacing the pipes with PVC. I hope that the legislators find some answers soon as this problem is not going away.

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There isn't enough security money for everyone to protect every metal asset - this kind of theft is a problem world-wide and there is no solution except making high-value targets physically impenetrable - which is expensive.

As people get more desperate, the thefts will become more brazen and audacious. No amount of legislation will change this...

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I believe pennies minted before 1983 were solid copper,

Here's a link:


Each penny pre-1882 was 3.1 grams of copper:


So one Kg of Copper would cost about 32.35 cents in pre-1983 pennies.

My quick web search showed the London spot price of copper to be $8.14 per Kg:


So you're looking at a profit of $7.81 per KG, which is about a 2400% return on investment - what a field day. All you have to do is filter through the existing stock of pennies floating around out there and get the pre-1983's, melt them down, and sell the resulting block of copper for scrap. Of course, a scrap dealer will pay you below spot for it, but still, you have plenty of profit margin to work with!

BTW, melting it might take some work, the melting point is > 1,900

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