Copper Theft Menace

I’ve been following copper theft for quite sometime. As I reported before, I have compelling reasons for doing so, having been victimized in personal and professional spheres. There are reasons why copper theft occurs in cycles around the world. One of those reasons is the demand; the emerged economies of China and India have an insatiable appetite for raw materials for their burgeoning industrial productions. The other is supply, limited supply drives up prices and increases motivation for theft of copper bearing assets wherever they could be had. The illegal copper trade is one exemplary of how the underbelly of the global economy operates. The global commodity trends are a driving force in local criminal trends. Unless you keep a close watch of the tendencies, it becomes a silent menace that quickly balloons to the tune of millions in asset losses.

According to this news report Spain is in the throws of a copper theft epidemic. The rash of copper motivated thefts does not only leave electric utilities, railways and telecommunications companies on a scramble to stem hundreds of thousands of Euros in losses, but has created public safety hazards as towns are left without power or telephone service, and unlit streetlights along dozens of kilometers (miles) of streets and roadways. I personally have experience these trends unfold in different regions (Latin America, North America and beyond), so the Spanish authority’s strategy as described by the article strikes me as effective; going after the dealers and wheelers. But the hierarchy goes much further, since corruption and collusion play a large role in this illicit trade. Global criminals are also wise to the ways of globalization, leveraging cheap freight cost and trade liberalization to move stolen goods unimpeded.  My recommendation is that more cooperation is needed across international law enforcement agencies to first understand the trends and then attack the other end of this global illicit trade, the industrial buyers. Local solutions would only go so far, you need multipliers to balance out the laws of global supply and demand.

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Five-fingered discounts? Not in the US

Two divergent trends came under scope recently. Apparently and contrary to popular belief retail theft has decreased by approximately 6.8 percent in the US compared to 2009. The downward trend is credited to an increased spending to reduce the amount and scope of shrinkage.  This is of extreme importance to all shoppers since retails pass losses sustained do to retail theft onto their legitimate shoppers, adding an average of $186 to every family’s shopping bill. That is a huge dent for most during these tough economic times.

Elsewhere around the developed world however, trend held steady the opposite way. Countries like India, Brazil, South Africa and France Britain and Germany shoplifting has continued to grow albeit at a lower pace. Despite these developments, The US apparently leads the way in terms of magnitude of loss standing at approximately $39 billion dollars in losses, followed by Britain with losses standing at a far removed $6.6 billion.

As some wise guy once said “the truth is in the pudding”

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