As copper prices rise, an arbitrage opportunity appears. If you can find scrap metals, you can sell them for a high price. Thieves know this and they looking for loose wires. “Near-record prices for copper, platinum, aluminum and other metals have spurred a resurgence in the past several months in the theft of common items that in better economic times might be overlooked — among them, catalytic converters from automobiles and copper wiring that is being stripped out of overhead power lines, tornado warning sirens, coal mines and foreclosed homes, where thieves sometimes tear down walls to get to copper pipes and wiring. The thieves then make quick money by selling the items to scrap yards.”
One way to address this concern is to remove the anonymity of market transactions. “California enacted a law in 2009 requiring people selling copper wire or catalytic converters at scrap yards to be photographed, have their driver’s license copied and wait at least three days for payment.” This makes sense to me but I don’t see how this “origination information” allows the police to trace the evidence to the crime.