The Western Australian Government has plans to regulate copper, similar to other metals like gold and silver, to tackle the rising problem of copper theft.
Unlike gold and silver, there is currently no requirement to record transactional information about the sale of copper, making it an attractive metal for criminals to steal and quickly make a profit from.
The problem has escalated in recent times, with thieves stripping copper wiring from homes and industrial sites, even targeting memorial plaques and sculptures.
Concernedly, Western Power has also reported significant theft of copper from around its live electricity network, leaving power poles and other infrastructure in a potentially unsafe state.
Under the Government’s proposed amendments, sellers of copper will be required to produce identification and licensed dealers in copper will be required to record all transactions and report details to police.
The WA Police Force is running proactive operations to target those involved in copper theft.
The Master Plumbers and Gasfitters Association of WA (MPGA) said copper theft is a huge cost for plumbing contractors and others in the building and construction sector.
“We have been lobbying the Government on behalf of our members and are pleased they have responded,” said MPGA CEO, Murray Thomas.
“The theft of copper plumbing materials and products from building sites and finished buildings costs our members hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.”
“In many cases, the stolen material finds its way to scrap metal dealers where it is sold for cash and helps to finance the illegal drug industry,” he said.
Mr Thomas further commented that the MPGA is urging the Government to carry through with further changes as soon as possible.
“There is a ready market with scrap metal merchants who pay cash. We want the Government to follow other states and prohibit cash payments altogether. We also say the only people who should be allowed to sell plumbing products and materials to scrap metal merchants are licensed plumbing contractors,” he said.