West Va. Senate develops bill to curb copper theft

West Virginia has been a major target of copper wire theft, and State Sen. Herb Snyder (D-Jefferson) wants to put an end to it.

Calling copper theft an "epidemic" that needs to be stopped, Snyder and a number of his Senate colleagues have developed a bill that they believe will help to thwart copper theft.

If the new bill becomes law, scrap metal dealers will be required to have a business license and record any purchase they make. Dealers would also be required to alert the police of any suspicious metal sellers and would have to pay them with checks.  

Frontier Communications (Nasdaq: FTR), the state's largest service provider and a supporter of the bill, said it has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to copper thieves.  

As one of the bill's supporters, Frontier said its technicians have had to respond to telephone service outages due to copper theft almost every 36 hours.

"Cable theft creates risks for families and hurts businesses," said Dan Page, a Frontier spokesman. "A coalition of utilities and other groups wants to be sure law enforcement professionals and the courts have the tools they need to address this growing problem."

What has made copper attractive to thieves is that it can fetch about $4 a pound. Of course, copper theft is not just an issue in West Virginia as other domestic carriers like AT&T (NYSE: T) and CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL), Canadian carriers like Bell Canada (NYSE: BCE) and Telus (Toronto: T.TO), and service providers in the UK including BT (NYSE: BT) are also fighting copper theft.

For more:
- The Charleston Gazette has this article

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