Metal thefts have been a longstanding concern for nursery operators, who must guard against having their irrigation pipe and other equipment stolen by meth-addled thieves who then sell the scrap to feed their habits. Said tweakers have also targeted building contractors (by stealing appliances and ripping wire right out of the sheetrock of unfinished homes), utility companies, and even the highway department (yep, the tweakers have even been known to steal the guardrails off of bridges). They target anyone who has metal and doesn’t sit in a rocking chair at night with a shotgun in their lap guarding it. And now, according to The Oregonian, that includes the dead. Metal thefts are becoming a problem at cemeteries, where vases, urns, electrical wiring and even lettering on crypts and markers are commonly stolen and turn up at scrap metal dealers. Most dealers won’t take this stuff and keep an eye peeled for it, but obviously there is a market for it somewhere. The article notes that copper, brass and bronze have plummeted in price in the last few months, so maybe there’s hope. As one droll commenter stated:
Memo to the folks buying the scrap: If a wigged out dude with sores all over his face comes in to sell sprinkler pipes for scrap – you might want to ask a few questions. Odds are he isn’t a farmer.
It’s worth noting that the Oregon Association of Nurseries has been among the leading voices working for tougher penalties against metal thieves. Members have also been working together via the Emerald Alert system (members only, click here to sign up) to stay vigilant and informed regarding criminal activity.