Atlanta ranks third in the nation when it comes to metal theft, a problem that a spokesman for the insurance industry says hits us all in the wallet.
Cobb County is divided into five police precincts – and not one of them is a stranger to metal theft.
“We experience some type of metal theft almost weekly in every one of our five precincts,” said Cobb Police Sgt. Dana Pierce.
A new report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) shows, over the past two years, reports of metal theft have skyrocketed 81 percent.
Dave Colmans at the Georgia Insurance Information Service said the NICB ranks Atlanta third among cities and Georgia third among states in the nation.
“Insurers are really concerned about this whole situation because of the repetitive nature of it,” Colmans explained.
The FBI recently issued a statement saying, “Copper thieves are threatening U.S. critical infrastructure…and present a risk to both public safety and national security.”
Still, it seems the general public doesn’t grasp the expense and inconvenience related to metal theft, according to Colmans.
“Things aren’t being protected at this point,” he said. “That’s why it’s so easy for air conditioning systems to be taken apart and stolen.”
It’s not just air conditioners that cool homes and businesses. Sgt. Pierce said cars and even power and phone lines have been dismantled for their metal content, which is then sold for quick cash to unknowing and unscrupulous metal recyclers.
Even as police target both thieves and the scrap yards they sell to, Colmans warned we may soon find ourselves forced to lock up our cars and our air conditioners or face skyrocketing insurance rates or a loss of coverage altogether.
“If (an insurance company) has enough claims, the risk becomes too great to insure,” said Colmans.