It was not the crime of the century.

James Anthony Price and Anthony Joseph Tate are not accused of stealing the Hope Diamond. They didn’t knock off a casino. The Prince George’s contractors allegedly stole copper wiring from a Pepco truck — $70,000 worth, according to the Gazette.

You might be thinking, “Why would someone steal copper wire?” I was. I mean, when thieves do chest bumps and clang glasses of Merlot to toast their scores, I never imagine them going, “Dude, we got so much copper wire.”


Not stolen: Kate Middleton’s engagement ring. (AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

Cliche on the loose: Copper wire is a hot commodity. It’s 100 percent recyclable, which makes it, from a criminal perspective, easy to flip. And look at this chart of copper prices over the past five years. It was well under $2 in 2008, but it tops $4 now.

To thank: stimulus projects, a recovering economy (in some places) and new home construction picking up. All of those homes need new air conditioners and other appliances.

A quick Google search reveals a veritable copper wire crime wave. Near Pittsburgh, thieves recently stole hundreds of feet of copper wire — from utility poles! Two California men recently got jail time for stealing copper wire from construction sites. In Phoenix, thieves mangled an air conditioner at a church for its copper wire — twice, in the same month.

“It’s a church,” one church member told a Phoenix TV station. “Come on, you’ve got to draw the line somewhere.”

Not with copper. It’s the new diamond.