Thieves take $12,000 in copper

SUWANEE - More than $12,000 worth of copper was stolen from a Suwanee electrical business over the weekend, police records show.

According to a police report, the suspects vertically cut a chain-link fence which surrounds Tibs Group - located in the 3400 block of Martin Farm Road - and stole two spools of medium copper cable valued at $12,000 and two Honda generators, listed at a total cost of $8,000.

A surveillance camera monitoring the property was manually shifted so that the act was not recorded, the police report states.

A company representative could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Tibs Group, based in Suwanee, provides various power and electronic services, according to the company's Web site. It states the firm designed and built backup generators for the 2004 G8 Summit at Sea Island and worked with General Electric to provide supplemental power in New York following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Copper theft is on the rise in metro area due to lucrative payouts from scrap metal dealers, according to authorities. Experts say the increase in theft is compounded by ballooning copper prices, which is a by-product of a shortage in domestic copper and a higher demand overseas, particularly in developing countries with booming construction.

The price of "clean" copper - without fittings or insulation - currently fetches $3 a pound, according to Jim Adams, owner of The Adams Company, a recycling center in Buford. Insulated copper goes for about $1.65 a pound, he said.

In 2007, a state law was passed that made stealing and selling copper a felony if it is worth more than $500.