As inflation picks up, the value of scrap metal rises. These price increases affect real estate in two ways:
- Increasing commodity prices can help predict the general direction of prices of all goods, inclusing real estate; and
- Increasing scrap metal values place real estate at risk for theft and vandalism.
In particular, metal theft demonstrates the declining value of the dollar and the lengths to which thieves will go to obtain something with real value. Metal theft has been rising in recent years, and in particular in recent weeks. Consider the following news items:
- This year, thieves have stolen at least 50 city trash cans (iron) from the streets of Pittsburgh, with each can now having a scrap value of between $ 1,500 and $ 2,000.
- In Washington D.C., thieves are posing as road crews to steal underground copper wire, causing parts of the city (including traffic signals) to go dark.
- In Chicago, scrap metal thieves are suspected of stealing a handicapped child's wheelchair.
- In Sacramento, thieves were arrested dismantling railroad tracks in broad daylight for the purpose of stealing the metal.
The problem is nationwide and is no longer limited just to copper or just to abandoned houses or houses undergoing rehabilitation. Iron is considerably less valuable than copper, yet thieves are targetting that metal also.