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Trying to curtail the consequences of copper thefts

CHAMPAIGN -- Victims and recycling centers are doing what they can to stop copper theft.
CHAMPAIGN -- Victims and recycling centers are doing what they can to stop copper theft. There have been nearly 30 copper thefts in the past two months. Most of the targeted buildings were vacant. WCIA-3's Erica Quednau finds out how building owners are Taking Action.

In August, the owner of Cheese and Crackers was hit by copper thieves. It cost him thousands of dollars in damage and a new security system.

"Hey Bart, you don't have any copper back here. Somebody stole it all."

It was $30 worth taken from these compressors. They sit behind Bart Basi's store.

"It was, it was awful."

That's because the $30 which went into someone else' pocket cost him much more.

"The bills totaled up, for me, about $20,000. Then, like now, I didn't have much to say. It shocked me."

So, this owner isn't taking any more chances.

"We have security cameras inside and outside. We have a high security fence. We have it electrified."

Recycling centers throughout the state are also taking extra precautions.

"If we have someone come in that buys, that brings in something to sell, and it doesn't look like it's appropriate, we won't buy it."

Centers are now required to keep records of everyone who sells stuff, including name, address and even car make and model. At Advantage, you're even on camera.

"We're very strict to make sure that everything is put into our computer system and is kept for a period of time."

And it can help police if they need to make an arrest.

"People who need money, that are dishonest, I think that they see the value of the copper and I don't think they understand the consequences."

The law even says people who sell things to recycling centers have to sign a piece of paper stating their items are not stolen.

A company hit hard by copper theft is Ameren. Last year, $250,000 was spent to purchase and replace stolen copper. Linemen typically carry 25-pound reels of it for their daily jobs. Not only is it a costly problem; it also causes power disruptions.
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