Tuesday, June 13, 2006
More than pennies
I was never the kind of kid who "took things apart." When stuff broke, I would always try to reassemble whatever pieces fell out, but after spending hours with inadequate tools, I generally would give up. Some of my strongest claims to Depression-style DYI-savings include repairing a set of sandals with simple white string, using a safety pin as an awl and to sew the leather back into itself (while tramping around Europe at 20, when I still understood the perils of credit cards' meeting shoes), and various other little incidents of thriftiness.
Once I walked up and down the block barefoot in the snow, just to see what it might feel like to be desperate.
I think I busted up a reproduction wind-up alarm clock once, but such a thing is non-electronic, there are no wires at work.
This curling mass of unoxidized copper fell out of a security light that was crushed in the parking lot. I didn't know such treasures lurked inside such things.
I saw the shiny threads densely and precisely wound around their transformer-whatever-battery base. They trickled apart when I picked it up, and this is what's left of the item.
Lately, lots of people have been stealing copper from others. The houses on Tracy Avenue, at least one of them, suffered its new wiring pulled out mid-renovation. A community center and an apartment complex are two recent victims I know in the Northeast area that have had their air conditioners hacked apart for copper wire.
Back in February, people were so desperate to cash in on the relatively high price of this and other metals, that they were breaking into
161,000-volt substations and stealing the copper wire grounding the place.
Now that's smart.
However, in January and December, the area's two major power brokers reported having this happen to at least 20 of their properties. Looks like the thieves were on to a method that allowed them to remain untoasted after all.
Three years ago, a pound of copper was about 75 cents. Now, it's over $2, and substations can yield 100 to 600 pounds.
All I know is that it's a really bad time to try to renovate a raw space that needs electrical and plumbing put in from scratch.
at 12:32 AM