Ohio was in the headlines this week -- but not for great reasons:

Despite incidents of copper theft trending downward in recent years, Ohio still leads the U.S. in the number of insurance claims for this type of felony. It's the fifth straight year Ohio has claimed this title.

Ohio policy-holders filed more than 4,000 claims in for the theft of copper, bronze, brass or aluminum from 2013 to 2015, or 11 percent of the 36,000 such claims nationwide, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). Pennsylvania came in second with about 2,800 such claims over that period.

This is bad news for Ohio homeowners. While copper theft has become less common, the volume of claims for this type of crime adversely affects insurance premiums. In other words, everyone pays.

Copper theft made headlines several years ago, as copper prices surged during the recession. Opportunists found stolen copper a quick way to make a relatively easy buck, as abandoned homes and businesses left this precious metal readily available for the taking. Ohio tightened regulations and adopted stricter laws on tracking the sale of scrap metal, essentially making it harder for thieves to fence stolen pipes, wire and other materials. Recycling centers in the state began photographing each seller and the items they brought in, plus entering each transaction into a statewide database. All of these actions served to deter copper crime in Ohio.

However, Ohio’s major metropolitan areas remain among the worst in the nation for metal theft, the NICB reports. As the economy improves, new construction sites could account for the high number of theft reports in the state. These sites have a larger inventory of copper -- so the claims that are filed are much more costly. In addition to tighter regulations, with copper hovering around a 5-year-low, hopefully Ohio criminals will decide the rewards are not worth the risk.

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau | Dayton Daily News | Columbus Dispatch
Photo credit: Flickr
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