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Madison police detain suspects in copper thefts

By Paul Snyder

Madison police on Wednesday detained and questioned three men in connection with at least one construction site theft in the city, said Madison Police Lt. Dave McCaw.

Copper, which is selling for about $3.40 per pound, is a hot commodity for thieves. (AP Photo/Gallup Independent, Brian Leddy)

Copper, which is selling for about $3.40 per pound, is a hot commodity for thieves. (AP Photo/Gallup Independent, Brian Leddy)

Police, McCaw said, found a hotel key card at a Krupp General Contractors LLC construction site. He said police followed the lead to an east side Madison hotel.

“I was told there was copper in a car, and it appears they were stripping extension cords in the room,” McCaw said.

Police on Wednesday were trying to find out what construction sites might have contributed to the copper collection in the hotel room and car, McCaw said.

“Copper pipe is copper pipe unless there are names on it,” he said.

Madison-based Krupp’s name was on an extension cord in the room, McCaw said.

Krupp construction crews discovered $1,000 worth of extension cords missing from the City Row Apartments site in Madison on Wednesday morning. It was the third time in the past week there was an extension cord theft at the site, said Betsy Freiburger, a Krupp project manager and safety coordinator.

The company earlier this week and last week reported to the Madison Police Department extension cord thefts worth $520 and $750, according to a department report.

“No matter what you do, if sites have a dark corner or one accessible entryway, people are going to find a way in,” Freiburger said. “We are looking to alert other contractors in the area.”

Krupp is not the only victim in the Madison area. Police Department spokesman Joel DeSpain said the department received a theft report this month from Saranac, Mich.-based Contract Dewatering Services Inc., which is doing a project in the 4100 block of Sycamore Avenue and reported $8,000 worth of missing copper ground cable.

DeSpain said Middleton-based H&B Steel Inc. and Madison-based Stevens Construction Corp., both of which are working at 10 S. Bedford St., reported welding leads missing from the site, though DeSpain did not have a value for the missing leads.

Police are making frequent night checks of construction sites throughout the city, McCaw said.

“We’re paying attention to anything that’s been hit multiple times,” he said. “We are seeing a lot of reports right now, but it’s also a foreseeable event when copper prices are where they are.”

Copper is selling for about $3.40 per pound, which while not a peak price is still higher than earlier this year, Freiburger said. She said Krupp is using concrete nail fasteners to secure the cords, which are used for heaters and fans during the night to prevent condensation buildup on freshly laid concrete in the buildings.

She said subcontractors are required to lock down all equipment before they leave for the day.

“Anything they can take that’s quick and portable, they’re grabbing,” Freiburger said of thieves. “We’re working on procedures to curb it.”

One comment

  1. Even construction jobsites with fences around them are experiencing theft of copper, tools, expensive HVAC equipment and heavy equipment. Theives are simply cutting through the fence material, loading it on large flat bed trucks and taking whatever they want. My company, Diamond Group Security, specializes in construciton security nationwide. Companies use us to serve as a deterrent, especially in rural areas, where it is difficult for law enforcement officials to respond. Even construction sites in cities are finding that the police cannot spend the amount of time at each jobsite to provide a deterrent; we offer 24/7 protection. The police might find out who is stealing the copper at these Madison area jobsites, but know that there are many more theives out there doing the same thing to other jobsites. Insurers are cautious when underwriting construction companies that do not hire security. Many of our construction customers receive a substantial savings on their liability insurance when they can prove that they use a reputable private security patrol service that specializes in construction site secuirty.

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