Reporter: Cory Marshall
TUCSON(KGUN9-TV) - Nationwide, metal theft is said to be a billion-dollar industry.
Copper crooks are ripping off wire from foreclosed homes, pool pumps and baseball fields.
"It's a poor man's gold," Tucson HVAC technician Guy Sweet told 9OYS.
"It's industry wide and it's a real bad deal," Sweet continued.
Sweet knows if he wants to keep his copper he has to keep his copper hidden. Metal theft is such a threat his company started painting over their copper wire, locking it up and when possible, avoid using copper all together.
"If we make it so it's not worth your while to steal then we've won. You're not going to steal from us, you're going to steal from somebody else," Sweet said.
Tucson Police Lt. Chad Kasmar says the department recently moved to train officers more extensively in metal theft -- aggressively tracking these copper culprits.
"So, the department has been working very very hard in the last year, not only on identifying what we can do better as far as investigating the crime, but what can we do better as a community ," Lt. Kasmar said.
"We're stuck with it. If you can make that kind of money off of scrap material just by driving it down -- It's not going away," Sweet said.