Wilmington, NC – The Eric DeYoung, the owner's son, discovered the pair inside the Gaylord building on North Front Street early Wednesday afternoon. Eight police officers blocked off the building, and, after a thirty-minute standoff, arrested the couple. DeYoung says he found evidence the man and woman were stripping the currently-unused building of its copper wire. Stripped copper wire brings more than two-dollars a pound at local recyclers, who report copper theft is a growing problem. Metal recycler Terry Horton has had his warehouse hit twice in the last month, and says his customers are getting wary.
"Matter of fact," Horton said, "I know someone who came through today from a church and they were redoing the gutter system, copper gutter system on their church, and they said, I'm bringing it right straight to you, I dare not leave it overnight, because it will not be there the next day."
Local metal recyclers report they've started keeping track of sellers' license plate numbers and working closely with local law enforcement and building contractors. The price of copper has tripled in the past two years. Ironically, copper futures dropped 9-percent on the world market Wednesday.