European gutters have a distinct appearance that is elegant and timeless. Made of copper, particularly when new, their gleaming appearance gives a home a genuine, long-lasting curb appeal. However, a disturbing trend has emerged. Copper theft continues to be on the rise. Anything made of this valuable metal is attractive to thieves looking to make some ready cash. Ways to protect copper gutters and downspouts from theft include installing a security system, building a fence, and setting up a neighbourhood watch.
Reasons Burglars Steal Copper
Residential buildings and commercial buildings contain several different types of copper components such as heating units, air conditioning units, electrical wires, pipes, downspouts, and gutter sections. Reasons burglars steal copper include:
- Fairly easy to steal
- 100% recyclable
- Easy to sell – metal recyclers pay good prices for scrap copper
Once burglars gain access to the property and/roof, copper pipes, tubing, and wiring can be ripped out or the gutter system, particularly the downspouts, be removed after the sun sets and no one is around.
Install a Security System
The most efficient way to discourage thieves is to install a security system. Some popular options are:
- Security cameras
- Motion sensor lights
It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive to deter home invasions. Even installing more outdoor lighting on your property or prominently displaying a security company’s warning signs can be effective in discouraging thieves.
Special Hardware for Downspouts
While copper gutters are a target of home invasions, copper downspouts are easier to steal because one good tug can cause the straps that anchor the downpipes to the wall to break away. If you would like to provide better protection for your downspouts, replace the standard straps with hardware that is difficult to rip out. These could include, but not limited to:
- Pin bolts
- Copper clamps
- Brass brackets
Build a Fence
If your property doesn’t have one already, build a fence, preferably one of solid boards rather than one that includes open panels or latticework. Add a hedge or thorny climbing vines to the part of the fence most accessible to thieves to make it harder for them to climb over. Before building a fence consult local bylaws for any height, design, and material restrictions.
Set up a Neighbourhood Watch
If there are several homeowners on your street that also have copper gutters, it might be worth the time and effort to invest in a neighbourhood watch. Keep in mind, anything made of metal such as catalytic converters and sprinkler system components is fair game. People walking up and down the street later in the evening and late at night are not a welcome sight to burglars.