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Any estimates out there?

Copper Thieves Are Cutting Electric Car Charging Cables and Stealing Them

How much copper is in one?

$7 a kg is a reasonable guess. So, how many kgs? And the faster the charging ability I assume the thicker the cable, the more copper.

So, 10 kg a unit? Making this something adventurous teens to for a weekend’s booze and weed? Or 50kg, with there being several at a location, this is real business?

20 thoughts on “Any estimates out there?”

  1. It all depends on the type of cable… for charger cables.. something between 125-250 grammes per meter. Most of the weight is actually the insulation..

    But honestly… when, as in the article, the ..entrepeneurs.. have the time to strip those cables onsite… Even with the right tools that takes time and effort…

  2. Just surprised it doesn’t happen more often.

    Is there worthwhile thievable tech in electric scooters? Loads of those sitting on city sidewalks all over.

  3. The battery. Which is why, from the ones I’ve seen, it’s removable so it can be carried to safety. Although that might just be the larger ones – electric motor bikes rather than stand up scooters.

  4. Its pikeys. They will work far harder at thieving than they would at a job that paid better money. Its the ‘Its free so it must be good’ mentality.

  5. The price of electrons from a random charger that you’re not signed up for when your Leaf is wilting on the road is going to provoke some whimpering from the “early adopters”

  6. Harry Haddock's Ghost

    But honestly… when, as in the article, the ..entrepeneurs.. have the time to strip those cables onsite… Even with the right tools that takes time and effort…

    I thought they burnt the insulation off in a big fire?

  7. Scrap copper prices in the US have collapsed 30-40% in the last few weeks. #1 insulated copper wire >85% recovery is running around $2.35 a pound, so right around $5 per kilo. Contrary to what has been stated, for heavier cables in this class, the insulation is a relatively-small part of the weight, typically 15-20%, which is why the scrap classification is set up the way it is.

    Many of these kinds of high-flex cables for outdoor use are often made with tinned copper, which drops the scrap rate below $2 a pound. At these prices, and given the scrap-metal laws in many states, I can’t imagine that this can be a significant problem – it’s just not worth the effort. For the same time and risk, you can steal a catalytic converter that will earn you $100.

    llater,

    llamas

  8. WRT burning off the insulation. Scrap yards in the US pay just-about half what they would pay for #1 bare bright copper for copper which has been burned ‘clean’. It’s actually harder to process burned copper in a modern flotation-based recovery plant than it is to process insulated wire.

    llater,

    llamas

  9. Harry Haddock's Ghost

    Its pikeys. They will work far harder at thieving than they would at a job that paid better money. Its the ‘Its free so it must be good’ mentality.

    It’s completely unacceptable to refer to this section of our multicultural community as thieving ‘Pikeys’. You should use the term ‘Caravan Utillising Nomadic Travelers’

  10. There was an episode on UK TV (“Scrap Kings” or something along those lines) which featured a brand new copper cable shredding machine. No need to do any stripping, just chuck insulated cable in one end, and two piles of separated contents appear at the other end. Not cheap, but so long as it is kept fed and working, it would pay for itself within a year.

  11. @Dave Ward – well, that’s a business I know something about.

    Those wire-stripping machines work great, but still require a lot of manual labor. And they output the copper in wire form, that has to be wrapped and bundled, or chopped, in order to make a reasonably-handleable product.

    When bare-bright copper was paying $2 a pound vs insulated, these machines could just-about make a profit with #1 wire, not hardly at all with #2 wire. They are only really viable in places where labor is cheap and transport is expensive, and the qiantities of wire are small. You won’t see such machines in use in any US scrap yard, for example – they are the province of individual scrappers, sometimes used by electrical contractors. But once you get into scrap wire by the bale, it all goes to bulk specialty plants that scrap many tons per hour.

    I have a machine I built myself to scrap solid NM wire. It strips several feet per second and separates the copper from the insulation like a zipper. When #1 bare bright was paying $3.65 a pound, it was worth my while – just – to run this machine, it paid me about $30 an hour as long as I was stripping 12 AWG or larger. With #1 BB now below $2.50 a pound, it’s not worth my time to run it, even if the wire is free to me.

    llater,

    llamas

  12. It’s completely unacceptable to refer to this section of our multicultural community as thieving ‘Pikeys’. You should use the term ‘Caravan Utillising Nomadic Travelers’

    That’s good.
    I’m (appropriately) stealing that.
    😉

  13. @ llamas – The machine I saw on TV completely shredded any insulated wire/cable fed into it. The output was in small granular form, both copper and insulation. The copper was collected in sacks or bins ready to be shipped off to bulk processors. If memory serves correctly, the plastic also went off to be incorporated into things like garden furniture.

    Having done a quick search it may well have been this machine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAfRPmEPZg4

  14. Should have been anticipated. These EVs don’t have catalytic converters ripe for taking so crooks need to move on to something else.

  15. @Dave Ward – my bad, I thought you were referring to this class of machine:
    https://www.bluerocktools.com/wire-stripping-machines/

    Obviously, what you saw is several steps up from that – a serious industrial machine, with price to match. You’ll grasp that a machine like what you linked needs to process hundreds of pounds of wire a day just to break even. I think this machine uses a viratory separator and air knife to process the material, which means it doesn’t do well on smaller, stranded wire or multi-layer insulated wire – for that, you need a flotation plant, and those are another price-point or two up. There’s one of those downriver (from Detroit), and it does an amazing job of isolating the copper – but it needs to process 50 tons or more of wire a day, just to pay the bills.

    For that reason, few local scrapyards run machinery like this – there’s not the material flow to justify the investment. These are more regional installations.

    llater,

    llamas

  16. My experience with trying to sell scrap – we did full building bare shell refurbs so we’d be getting everything out – is that scrap buyers are extremely touchy about what they’ll take. Do what you like with one of these recharger cables, it’s still going to be recognisable where it’s come from. They won’t accept it. Sure you might be able some back street yard might feed it into the recovery industry. But then the money they’ll give you will reflect that. They’re the ones will make the profit.
    And one of the by-products of this stuff being around will be similar legit cabling will be hard to shift. They’ll likely want to see paperwork before they’ll accept it. Contract with whoever commissioned the strip out or similar.
    It’s just the industry protecting itself. They don’t want to find themselves being prosecuted for handling stolen material. Especially as whoever nicked it in the first place will likely be untraceable.

  17. They will work far harder at thieving than they would at a job that paid better money. Its the ‘Its free so it must be good’ mentality.

    In a former life, I was brought in to take over a highly dysfunctional IT dept. I pointed out to some of them that if they put half as much effort into their actual work as they did in skiving and running assorted expense dodges, they’d justify being promoted.

  18. “Sure you might be able some back street yard might feed it into the recovery industry. But then the money they’ll give you will reflect that. They’re the ones will make the profit.”

    That’s the same as with thieves and pawn shops.

    Thieves don’t really care how much they get for the goods – it’s “free” after all so anything they get is profit. They will prioritize stuff that more shops will take as being more fencible.

    When I was a teenager my parents’ house was broken into near Christmas. Stuff that was taken included:
    1. Stereo receiver and tape deck (this was in the 80s).
    2. Jewelry (watches and rings).
    3. A couple of bottles of booze (not all of it).

    They didn’t take much more valuable stuff e.g. silverware (much more valuable but recognizable), the speakers (heavier and more delicate) or the record player (much more expensive but again more delicate), either because they didn’t recognize it as valuable, or it was more recognizable as being stolen.

    I guess they didn’t take more booze because their hands were full. Luckily they didn’t indulge in breaking the rest of the bottles; I think they were on a schedule. Several other houses were broken into the same day in the neighbourhood.

  19. “Stereo receiver and tape deck (this was in the 80s)”

    Bought mine in the 80’s and they’re still here (both reel-to-reel & cassette). And they all get used from time to time…

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