Copper is now pain for brass
WE JUST had a new refrigerator installed. A couple of guys with arms the size of coconut tree trunks carried the massive appliance up a treacherous set of stairs like it was made of Styrofoam. I love watching highly qualified professionals do their job. Had my wife and I tried to get the new refrigerator into the house, it would have ... Hey, who are we kidding here? I've got a trunk the size of a tree trunk and arms the size of spaghetti noodles. There's no freakin' way we could have gotten that monster into the house without utilizing the levitation secrets of Egyptian pyramid-builders.
The coconut-arm boys took the old refrigerator away but left a coil of about three feet of copper tubing that fed water for ice into the old one. I put the copper in a box with some other junk and left it for the garbage men, but within an hour of leaving it at the bottom of our hill, the copper had disappeared. Copper apparently is the cocaine of our day. People will do anything to get it, even die. Really. Just this week some knucklehead trying to steal copper from the top of a utility pole electrocuted himself. Taking a copper coil from someone's garbage is one thing (even though my discarded coil was worth only about $1.76 on the copper market); getting yourself electrocuted trying to harvest copper from a high-power utility pole is something else. And by "something else," I mean, "insane."
AUTHORITIES finally are cracking down on copper thieves and the recyclers (a.k.a. stolen-property fences) who make copper thefts a thriving economic concern. Three other knuckleheads were on their way to electrocuting themselves outside the Pali tunnels last week when police nabbed them and their sophisticated copper harvesting equipment: wire cutters. It reportedly was perfect electrocution weather: rainy, dark and humid. You have to wonder why the cops just didn't let evolution take its natural course. Stealing copper isn't supposed to a crime punishable by death, but sometimes it just works out that way.
Undercover police managed to bust possibly two of the dumbest copper criminals in history. The secret agents showed up at the a recycling center with a 653-pound spool of copper wire clearly labeled "HECO." As if that weren't obvious enough, the cops told the two recycling geniuses that the wire was stolen from Hawaiian Electric. With a zany disregard for the short arm of the law, the two recyclers bought the hot copper and were frog-hopped to the lockup. Bonny and Clyde they weren't.
Word has to be getting out that if you steal copper you are either going to get caught or killed, and if you "recycle" stolen copper you are going to be recycled into a state correctional institution. But maybe not. Copper harvesters are the bottom feeders of the criminal underworld. They aren't even as bright as the dead streetlights from which they steal. Their ignorance, literally, is shocking. And they clearly don't grasp the extremely unfavorable risks-vs.-rewards aspect of their financial enterprise. In short, they make guys who move refrigerators for a living look like Rhodes scholars.
Buy Charles Memminger's hilarious new book, "Hey, Waiter, There's An Umbrella In My Drink!" at island book stores or online
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