Richland County, SC — The March 25 article, “Copper thieves create vandalism epidemic at Lower Richland churches,” showed the tremendous effects copper thieves have in our state and the devastation caused to churches in particular.
As an insurer of many of the churches in the article, we recognize that copper theft is a major issue for churches financially and it causes disruption for the entire congregation and community. Even more importantly, they have to close the church, day care and school or postpone weddings and funerals until HVAC units can be replaced. In January, 18 S.C. churches we insure experienced copper theft of HVAC units.
A cornerstone of the current law not mentioned in the article is that metal recyclers must pay for copper via check. A license and photo ID are required to sell copper. These provisions help create a paper trail that helps law enforcement monitor and prosecute offenders and protects the recyclers by having proper documentation should a check they issue be defrauded. Copper thieves would prefer the law be changed back and allow cash for copper, and this is being seriously considered.
The new law has cut copper-theft losses by 60 percent for churches we insure. We need to encourage our legislators to continue protecting the citizens and businesses of South Carolina by upholding the critical provisions of the current law.
Churches aren’t the only victims: Farmers, homebuilders, homeowners, small businesses, electricity providers, schools and many others also are being targeted by copper theft.
Mutual Church Insurance