Bruce Schneier notes that the resale value of a stolen commodity like lead tile or copper wiring is considerably less than the cost to society to replace it, even when black market prices increase and further incentivize theft. Security measures to protect these assets are deemed “a tax on the honest” by Schneier, and they add a further toll on top of the costs to replace/rebuild. Nothing metal is exempt, to include manhole covers and — of all things — an entire steel bridge in Ukraine. As a society we’re going to have to decide which is cheapest: factoring in theft as a sunk cost of doing business, securing and protecting materials from theft, or moving away altogether from commodities that have street value. An uncertain economic climate is likely to bring more such stealing, not less.
Commodity theft’s cost to society