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David Grubbs/AP

Latest Copper Theft Leaves Cancer Patients Without Treatment

August 01, 2008 02:08 PM
by Cara McDonough
The rising price of copper has led to a rash of unusual thefts. The latest incident occurred in an outpatient cancer clinic in San Diego.

30-Second Summary

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Dozens of cancer patients missed their radiation therapy at Oncology Therapies of Vista Wednesday after a metal thief ripped out copper plumbing that cools radiation machines in the clinic.

The perpetrator didn’t finish the job, leaving behind copper pipes that would have been worth as much as $400 at a recycling center, but the damage was enough to cancel appointments that day.

While the incident might seem unusual, rising copper prices have caused a rash of thefts across the country, and foreclosed homes have been one of the hardest hit targets.

The trend has also driven up the price of ammunition, and caused lawmakers to pass a bill making steel the main metal in coins, rather than pricey copper.

Following the San Diego break-in, plumbers and technicians worked through the night in order to repair the machines by Thursday. Amber Duff, an administrative assistant at the clinic, said the patients were “disappointed but gracious” according to the Los Angeles Times.

“They knew it wasn’t our fault. But when you’re dealing with something like cancer, any change to your treatment schedule is disappointing. I don’t think the thieves knew the depth of the problem they were creating.”

Headline Link: ‘Copper-seeking vandal delays treatment for cancer patients’

Background: Copper prices, theft on the rise

Related Topics: Other effects of rising copper prices

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