EV Charging Cable Thefts Surge Amid Skyrocketing Copper Prices

In a disturbing trend sweeping the nation, thieves are targeting electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, stealing valuable copper cables and leaving EV owners stranded without a charge. As the price of copper soars to record highs on global markets, criminals are cashing in by selling the stolen cables, disabling entire charging stations in the process, reports The Associated Press.

The Theft Epidemic

Security cameras have captured brazen thefts occurring in broad daylight, with thieves using cutters to snip charging cables and off with them in minutes. The problem has escalated rapidly, with Electrify America, the nation's second-largest network of fast chargers, reporting a staggering increase in cable thefts from just one every six months to 129 through May this year.

Anthony Lambkin, Electrify America's vice president of operations, emphasized the impact on customers, stating, “We're enabling people to get to work, to take their kids to school, get to medical appointments. So to have an entire station that's offline is pretty impactful to our customers.”

Automakers' EV Ambitions at Risk

The rise in cable thefts poses a significant challenge for U.S. automakers who have invested billions in the transition to electric vehicles. With about 4 in 10 U.S. adults already skeptical about charging infrastructure, the added uncertainty of functioning cables could further deter potential EV buyers.

Major automakers like , , and General Motors have set ambitious targets for EV production and sales, but these goals hinge on convincing consumers that reliable charging will always be available.

The Copper Connection

The surge in cable thefts is directly linked to the soaring price of copper, which recently hit a record high of nearly $5.20 per pound. Thieves can earn $15 to $20 per stolen cable at scrap yards, making it a lucrative endeavor despite the relatively small amount of copper in each cable.

Sgt. Robert Carson, who leads a police metal-theft unit in Houston, noted, “They're not making a significant amount of money. They're not going to be sailing on a yacht anywhere.”

Fighting Back Against Theft

Charging companies and law enforcement are working together to combat the theft epidemic. Electrify America is installing more security cameras, while police in Houston are visiting recycling centers to look for stolen metal. The Recycled Materials Association is also issuing scrap-theft alerts to its 1,700 members.

Carson urged EV owners to remain vigilant and report suspicious activity near charging stations, stating, “If people are driving down the road and you see a gas-powered vehicle, a truck, at a charging station, that probably doesn't belong there.”

As the demand for electric vehicles grows, the need for reliable and secure charging infrastructure becomes increasingly critical. The recent surge in charging cable thefts threatens to undermine the progress made in expanding EV adoption and highlights the urgent need for enhanced security measures at charging stations nationwide.

EVXL's Take

The rise in EV charging cable thefts is a concerning development that underscores the importance of robust security measures and innovative solutions in the rapidly evolving EV landscape. As the adoption of electric vehicles continues to accelerate, it is crucial that charging infrastructure keeps pace and remains reliable and secure.

At EVXL, we believe that the EV industry must work collaboratively with law enforcement, security experts, and technology providers to develop comprehensive strategies to combat theft and vandalism at charging stations. This could include advanced surveillance systems, tamper-proof cable designs, and enhanced community awareness and reporting initiatives.

By proactively addressing these challenges and ensuring the integrity of charging infrastructure, we can continue to drive the transition to a cleaner, more sustainable future powered by electric vehicles.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of EVXL.co, where he covers all electric vehicle-related news, covering brands such as Tesla, Ford, GM, BMW, Nissan and others. He fulfills a similar role at the drone news site DroneXL.co. Haye can be reached at haye @ evxl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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