Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Churches stripped for metal

Quebec, Canada - Night thieves took sections of copper roofs, gutters and wiring from four Quebec City churches. "It's audacious when you have to use a ladder of 15 or 20 feet to climb up and cut pieces of a roof,'' Rev. Raymond Angers, who oversees two of the churches, told The Canadian Press. Three men removed the 81-year-old metal from the St-Charles-de-Limoilou and St-Francois-d'Assise churches. The copper was worth a few hundred dollars, but repairs to the churches will cost up to $50,000, Angers said. "These people have no respect,'' Angers said.

Cleveland police said thieves stripped the copper sheating of a half-dome that sits at the four corners of the St. Theodosius Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Ohio's oldest Russian Orthodox church. In Vancouver, thieves have taken off with aluminum ladders, soccer goals and park light fixtures while manhole covers have gone missing in Montreal. Hydro and cable companies have also reported stolen wiring while metal giants Alcan and Dofasco have also been robbed.

The theft of metal is a longstanding problem, said Len Shaw, executive director of the Canadian Association of Recycling Industries. "It's a bit crazy at the moment," he said. "If you show up with a whole roof from a church, somebody should be asking questions.'' But not only does much of the material sold contain no markings, large stashes of stolen metal are usually shipped abroad. The $85-billion US global scrap metal trade has tripled since 2003 while
copper alone has climbed to about $3.71 US per pound.

Some Canadian scrappies no longer accept manhole covers. And in another case one man died whilst trying to steal copper. Thefts also include heritage bronze items like sundial plates.

The video news clip cites demand from countries like China and India fuelling the thefts, but of course most of that demand is fed by European and North American consumers who buy the goods made and exported from India and China, so in a way we only have our own greed to blame.

Video CTV

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