213. Copper Robbers


For the last two years, the Los Angeles area has seen an increasing number of metal thefts, reported Paul Moyer, co-anchor of the local 6 o'clock news. Sometime before dawn Wednesday, thieves had stolen the copper wire out of six lamp posts. A day earlier, a heavy 7-foot-tall bronze statue of a gold miner in West LA had disappeared. Eight manhole covers in downtown LA had been removed three nights earlier. At least twice a week, Moyer reported, thieves steal copper from construction sites. All this metal is sold as scrap.

The price of copper today is six times what it was just six years ago. Even the federal government is reducing production of pennies, because it now takes two cents worth of copper to produce a one-cent penny. LA's police chief, Bill Bratton, promised that he was going to increase the number of cameras and live patrols around statues and all outdoor metal sculptures in LA. He said that metal thieves were destroying LA's "cultural history." He reminded thieves that they were endangering their own lives when they cut into live wires, and they were endangering drivers' lives when they removed manhole covers.

Moyer, famous for his wit, ended his special report by joking that it was a good thing that the Statue of Liberty was not in Los Angeles harbor. "I bet that would be worth a pretty penny," chuckled his blonde co-anchor.

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