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When a building is boarded up to protect against intrusion, it ironically alerts criminals that a potential treasure trove—copper, aluminum and precious metals—may be there for the taking.
Although copper prices have fallen from their $4.6-per-pound peak a year ago, at roughly $3.80 per pound the metal remains valuable.
Once a thief breaks into a building, it opens the door to other risks, such as water damage, mold and vandalism.
“We've seen situations where the building owner has left the heat on and the water running so the pipes won't freeze, and when the copper piping is stolen it results in significant damage,” said Jay Little, vp of commercial insurance at Kansas City, Mo.-based broker Lockton Cos. L.L.C.
To limit prospects for thieves and extract some value from a soon-to-be-vacant structure, Frank Westfall, vp of Philadelphia-based ESIS Inc., the environmental, health and safety unit of ACE Ltd., recommends the removal of copper, aluminum and precious metals from the building, if the company indeed has no plans to restore it to use.
The tally is sobering: 6 million jobs lost and nearly 42,000 factories closed in the past decade.