Copper thefts double in Winston-Salem

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Nearly 700 copper thefts were reported in Winston-Salem last year, double the number seen the year before.

Winston-Salem Police said there were only 339 copper-related thefts in the city in 2010.

Realtor Dan Sawyers said three of the houses he's managed have had the copper stripped out of them over the past few months. The stolen copper in one of the homes may cost $100, but the cost of repairs is nearly $1,300.

"It's very frustrating, especially for the seller, now incurring damages from the cuts and removal of copper," Sawyers said.

"It's everywhere. With the economy like it is, people are struggling, so people go out and steal stuff," said Bob Young with 109 U-Pull-It.

The business buys scrap metal, but they have security measures in place, including cameras.

"They can zoom in on the tag, so we've got a picture of them, a scan of driver's license and a picture of their license tag," Young said.

However, what's done at 109 U-Pull-It isn't required by law. That's why, at the request of police, Winston-Salem City Council is considering a resolution to ask state lawmakers to require scrap yards to record driver's licenses, get signatures and keep records on the sale of metal.

Before Winston-Salem city council decides to take on the resolution, a public meeting related to copper theft will take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

Police in Greensboro and High Point said metal thefts also increased significantly last year, but they didn't have any specific numbers.