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How to Stop Scrap Metal Theft

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A security camera installed to help deter scrap metal theft

Theft is a problem for recyclers and individuals trying to get rid of their scrap metal. There are laws in place to help stop thieves, but how can you protect your scrap? 

Continue reading to learn more about scrap metal theft, and you can protect your property. 

Why Does Scrap Metal Theft Happen? 

With how valuable certain metals can be, it’s no surprise scrap theft is a problem. Copper and brass can sell for a rate between 2 to 4 dollars per kilogram (KG), and these prices are sure to attract people looking to make extra money. 

Sadly, some people aren’t looking to make their money legally, relying on stealing from others. 

What Scrap Metal is Being Stolen? 

With the high prices you can get today, thieves steal many types of scrap metal. In their pursuit of profit, what metals do people commonly steal? 

Some scrap may be harder to get, but commonly stolen metals include: 


Aluminum is almost everywhere. You can find it in many homes and job sites. Types of aluminum scrap include: 

  • Window frames
  • Door frames
  • Office partitions 
  • Aluminum siding 
  • Thermal breaks
  • Sheets & bars
  • Signs
  • Poly-coated aluminum 
  • Truck & car rims
  • Castings


Brass is another valuable metal. Scrap is commonly melted down and made into sheets, strips, or wires for several uses. You can find many types of brass scrap, such as: 

  • Valves
  • Bar stock
  • Bearings
  • Bushings
  • Turnings or shavings


Copper is in many everyday appliances, plumbing tubes, roofing sheets, and heat exchangers. It’s a valuable metal, and many break the law to get their hands on excess copper. 

Copper scrap includes: 

  • Stripped wire
  • Piping 
  • Turnings 
  • Bar stock
  • Sheets

Insulated Wire 

Insulated wire can consist of copper and aluminum. This scrap usually needs stripping to remove the non-conductive materials, but it’s worth the effort. 

You can scrap all insulated copper and aluminum wire (pricing can vary) as well as aluminum conductor steel-reinforced cable. 

Ferrous Metals (Steel, Iron, & Cast Iron) 

Common ferrous metals include steel, iron, and cast iron. This metal may be hard to move in large quantities, but thieves can get their hands on several types of scrap, including: 

  • Structural steel
  • Angle products
  • Channel pieces 
  • Beams
  • Plates 

Because scrap metal is frequently stolen and sold, is anyone doing anything to stop these thefts? 

How is Scrap Metal Theft Being Dealt With? 

Fortunately, you aren’t alone in the fight against scrap theft. The Protecting Alberta Industry from Theft Act began in November 2020 to make selling stolen scrap metal more difficult. 

This act enforces all scrap metal dealers and recyclers to report transactions featuring high-theft items to law enforcement

The act lists some of the common high-theft items, including: 

  • Copper cable & wires
  • Metal traffic light signals & signs  
  • Street lighting poles, wiring, & fixtures
  • Sewer grates & manhole covers
  • Metal guard rails & handrails
  • Metal grave markers, funeral vases, memorial plaques, & monuments 
  • Catalytic converters
  • Lead-acid batteries 

How Do Dealers & Recyclers Help? 

The Protecting Alberta Industry from Theft Act requires transactions to only take place with sellers over the age of 18 who can provide government-issued ID featuring their: 

  • Photo
  • Name
  • Signature
  • Date of birth
  • Unique ID number

Dealers and recyclers must record specific information within 24 hours of any transactions taking place. This recording includes both seller and transaction information, including: 

  • Legal name
  • Address
  • Name of business (if applicable) 
  • Unique ID number on seller’s ID
  • Date & time of metal acquisition 
  • Description of metal sold 
  • Weight of metal
  • The vehicle used to deliver metal 

While this is a helpful way to track potentially stolen scrap metal, it doesn’t stop your metal from being taken from your home or job site. How can you stop scrap metal theft at the source? 

A close up of a lock around a gate keeping an area secure from theft

How Can You Stop Scrap Metal Theft? 

Whether you’re a business or have scrap lying around your home, you don’t want to experience theft. With some preparation, you can lower your risk of potential scrap metal thieves. 

Consider using some of these prevention methods: 

  • Install a security camera on your property 
  • Keep all of your valuable scrap metal out of view in a locked area
  • Post “no trespassing” signs
  • Maintain door and window locks to protect your property
  • Trim your shrubbery & landscaping 
  • Increase the lighting on your property 

Preventing Theft at Your Business 

If you have a business that deals with valuable metals, implement some of these changes to lower your risk of theft: 

  • Mark metals with your company’s name using paint or hard-to-remove materials
  • Immediately secure materials once delivered to your job site
  • Don’t receive materials until you’re ready to use them
  • Keep a detailed list of all of your metal

If you experience any scrap metal theft, remember to contact local police to file a report. While the risk of theft is always there, you can help protect your property and scrap metal. The longer scrap lays around, the more likely it’s stolen, so consider selling any metal you won’t use. If you have any scrap metal you want to get rid of, contact your local recycling centre.

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