Vacant Property Copper Piping Vandalism

Due to the rising price of
commodities,? cities around the country are
experiencing?a dramatic increase in thefts of
copper,?copper piping and other materials commonly found in
both commercial and residential?properties. The primary target
are typically vacant homes.

The following report from the Wall Street
Journal, discusses the extent of this crime
epidemic.?Following the report are additional reports on the
subject from other areas of the country.

Copper and Robbers:
Homeowners’ Latest Worry

Thieves Target Wires,
Pipes, Air Conditioners
As Price of Hot Commodity Soars

While Joe Fick and his wife Rachel Vreeman were
sleeping in their rental house in Indianapolis one night in July,
thieves sneaked up and made off with an estimated $100 of stolen
goods. But the target wasn’t jewelry or electronics. It was the
copper components of the house’s central air conditioner.

“They unscrewed the top and pulled out the guts
and left the shell there,” says Mr. Fick, a campus minister.

The high price of copper is hitting home —
literally. The metal’s skyrocketing scrap value is inspiring
criminals to hit houses, making off with copper coils in
air-conditioning units, copper wires, even the copper pipes used
for plumbing, leaving some perplexed residents without running

In the past several months, police departments
across the country have reported a surge in the number of
copper-related thefts at homes, businesses and elsewhere. Police
have reported everything from copper vases swiped from gravesites
to more serious thefts, such as the copper wire stolen recently
from a power substation in Oklahoma City that utility officials say
caused a six-hour power outage for 4,000 customers.

Sometimes thieves steal less than $100 worth of
the metal but cause many times more in damages. Police in Detroit,
for example, are reporting thousands of dollars in repair costs for
street lights that have been stripped of copper components.

Driven by increased world demand for
commodities, prices of steel, copper, aluminum and other metals are
at historic highs. The price of copper has more than doubled in the
past year, closing yesterday at $3.65 a pound on the Comex division
of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price of copper scrap —
which is processed and sold to metal-making firms — has also
doubled, with high-grade scrap now fetching around $3 or more per
pound at scrapyards, and lower-grade scrap less, depending on
quality, according to scrap-metal dealers.

Copper isn’t the only metal sought by thieves.
Products made from aluminum and steel are also being targeted —
everything from beer kegs to aluminum luggage carts. But thefts of
copper — which commands a higher price — are especially onerous
for homeowners and builders, as the metal is used throughout modern
homes, including the inner coil of central air-conditioning units,
electrical systems, gutters and water pipes.

Residential air-conditioning units in
particular are becoming popular with thieves. The copper insides of
a condensing unit — the portion of a central-air system that sits
outside — can fetch $50 to $150 at a scrapyard, while replacing an
entire unit that’s been plundered can cost $2,000 or more. That’s
what happened with the unit that was gutted at Mr. Fick and Ms.
Vreeman’s rental home. The thieves probably “didn’t even get the
market value for it,” says the house’s owner, John Beeler. “I would
have preferred if they had just knocked on my door and asked for

Thieves often target units sitting unwatched at
new construction sites or empty homes, but more brazen ones will
strike even when residents are home. Noreen Alexander, a
62-year-old retired social worker, was in her Detroit home one hot
morning this summer when she heard a strange noise out back. About
10 minutes later, her nephew noticed that the outdoor unit of her
central air conditioner was gone. “I never believed anyone would
steal an air conditioner that size, period,” Ms. Alexander says.
“Was I mad! I was hotter than the weather.”

Police say the culprits are usually petty
criminals looking for some quick money. Those who are arrested are
charged with burglary or larceny, depending on the circumstances of
the theft, and face fines, probation or several years in jail.
People can be reimbursed through homeowner’s insurance but often
must pay a deductible. “The guy who used to collect beer cans for
redemption values says, ‘Why should I do that? I can get 10 times
for that for a fraction of the work’?” by stealing air
conditioners, says Nathan Frankel, a scrapyard owner in Fontana,

Another target for thieves is copper piping,
which often runs exposed beneath many older homes. Jared Barker, a
27-year-old corrections officer, was renovating his home in
Huntington, W.Va., and left it unattended one night last month. He
returned to find the kitchen tap not working. After checking below
the house, he found that about a thousand dollars worth of copper
pipe was gone. He was amazed that thieves would make off with the
pipes in the roughly 10 hours he was away. “It takes a lot of guts
to crawl underneath somebody’s house and cut their pipes out,” he

Police elsewhere in the country are reporting
similar crimes. In Little Rock, Ark., one historic residence in the
city’s downtown was hit by copper thieves three separate times. In
the most recent incident, thieves removed $1,000 worth of copper
pipe, leaving the resident without water, according to police
reports. Criminals in the city have also posed as servicemen,
removing copper plumbing and air conditioners in the middle of the
day, says Lt. Terry Hastings of the Little Rock police. He says the
city has seen 39 commercial and residential air-conditioner thefts
since mid-August, up from almost none in the same period last

In response to the rash of thefts, cities are
starting to crack down. Montgomery, Ala., recently passed an
ordinance requiring scrapyards to report the copper they take in to
the police department, and police in Detroit are making sure local
scrapyards are licensed and are collecting identification
information from people who sell them the metal.

Chuck Carr, a spokesman for the Institute for
Scrap Recycling Industries in Washington, an association of
metal-recycling companies with about 3,000 scrap-yards throughout
the U.S., says his organization is bewildered by the sudden surge
in theft. The organization has a scrap-theft alert system, which
alerts scrap dealers by email when large lots of metal are reported
stolen. The group also has a grant to launch a minor advertising
campaign to educate people the public on metal theft as part of
National Crime Prevention Month.

“No legitimate scrap dealer wants to
intentionally take stolen material,” says Mr. Carr. “Not only is it
the wrong thing to do; it’s bad for business on so many

All the activity is keeping air-conditioning
contractors busy. Larry Taylor, president of AirRite Air
Conditioning Co. in Fort Worth, Texas, says his company has
received a service call nearly every day for the past 40 days from
a home or business owner whose air conditioning has been damaged or
stolen. Brenda Hawk, office manager for Camair Inc. in Orlando,
Fla., says the company has gotten about four times as many
telephone calls this summer compared with last year regarding
stolen or gutted equipment.

One was from Krystian Zygowiec, who put his
Orlando home on the market early in the summer and left for
Michigan with his wife. About two weeks ago, a neighbor who was
mowing the lawn noticed the air-conditioning unit on the side of
the house had been reduced to just a few pieces. Because Mr.
Zygowiec didn’t want to bring prospective buyers to see a
non-air-conditioned house, he had to cancel several open houses.
“In this troubled housing market, every day is valuable,” he says.
“It was pretty much the worst time they could have stolen it.”

To view this online article, please
click here

To view similar reports from other areas of the
country, please click on the following links.

Lansing MI

Springfield OH
(free registration required)

Cincinnati OH

East St. Louis IL

Due to the rising price of
commodities,? cities around the country are
experiencing?a dramatic increase in thefts of
copper,?copper piping and other materials commonly found in
both commercial and residential?properties. The primary target
are typically vacant homes.



Alan Jaffa

Alan Jaffa is the chief executive officer for Safeguard, steering the company as the mortgage field services industry leader. He also serves on the board of advisors for SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Alan joined Safeguard in 1995, learning the business from the ground up. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2002, and was named CEO in May 2010. His hands-on experience has given him unique insights as a leader to innovate, improve and strengthen Safeguard’s processes to assure that the company adheres to the highest standards of quality and customer service.

Under Alan’s leadership, Safeguard has grown significantly with strategies that have included new and expanded services, technology investments that deliver higher quality and greater efficiency to clients, and strategic acquisitions. He takes a team approach to process improvement, involving staff at all levels of the organization to address issues, brainstorm solutions, and identify new and better ways to serve clients.

In 2008, Alan was recognized by Crain’s Cleveland Business in its annual “40-Under-40” profile of young leaders. He also was named a NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® finalist in 2013.


Chief Operating Officer

Michael Greenbaum

Michael Greenbaum is the chief operating officer for Safeguard. Mike has been instrumental in aligning operations to become more efficient, effective, and compliant with our ever-changing industry requirements. Mike has a proven track record of excellence, partnership and collaboration at Safeguard. Under Mike’s leadership, all operational departments of Safeguard have reviewed, updated and enhanced their business processes to maximize efficiency and improve quality control.

Mike joined Safeguard in July 2010 as vice president of REO and has continued to take on additional duties and responsibilities within the organization, including the role of vice president of operations in 2013 and then COO in 2015.

Mike built his business career in supply-chain management, operations, finance and marketing. He has held senior management and executive positions with Erico, a manufacturing company in Solon, Ohio; Accel, Inc., a packaging company in Lewis Center, Ohio; and McMaster-Carr, an industrial supply company in Aurora, Ohio.

Before entering the business world, Mike served in the U.S. Army, Ordinance Branch, and specialized in supply chain management. He is a distinguished graduate of West Point (U.S. Military Academy), where he majored in quantitative economics.



George Mehok

George Mehok is the chief information officer for Safeguard. He is responsible for all strategic technology decisions, new systems deployments and data center operations supporting a national network of more than 10,000 mobile workers.

George has more than 20 years of leadership experience dedicated to high-growth companies in the mobile telecommunications and financial services industries, spanning startups to global industry leaders.

George played a senior role in the formation of Verizon Wireless, leading the IT product development and strategic planning team. He led the integration planning for the Verizon merger including: GTE, Vodafone-AirTouch, Bell Atlantic Mobile and PrimeCo.

As chief information officer at Revol Wireless, a VC-backed CDMA wireless communications network operator, George’s team implemented an integrated technology infrastructure and award-winning business intelligence platform.

George holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from Eastern Michigan University and an M.B.A. from The Ohio State University. He is a board member of Akron University’s School of Business Center for Information Technology, in addition to an advisory board member for OHTec.

In 2013, George won the Crain’s Cleveland Business CIO of the Year award for his team’s work in completing a major acquisition and technology transformation at Safeguard. In 2015, George’s team was recognized by InformationWeek’s annual Elite 100 ranking of the most innovative U.S.-based users of business technology. The mobile inspection technology developed at Safeguard was selected as InformationWeek’s “One of the top 20 ideas to steal in 2015”.


General Counsel and Executive Vice President

Linda Erkkila, Esq.

Linda Erkkila is the general counsel and executive vice president for Safeguard and oversees the legal, human resources, training, and compliance departments. Linda’s responsibilities cover regulatory issues that impact Safeguard’s operations, risk mitigation, enterprise strategic planning, human resources and training initiatives, compliance, litigation and claims management, and mergers, acquisition and joint ventures.

Linda assures that Safeguard’s strategic initiatives align with its resources, leverage opportunities across the company, and contemplate compliance mandates. Her practice spans over 20 years, and Linda’s experience covers regulatory disclosure, corporate governance compliance, risk assessment, executive compensation, litigation management, and merger and acquisition activity. Her experience at a former Fortune 500 financial institution during the subprime crisis helped develop Linda’s pro-active approach to change management during periods of heightened regulatory scrutiny.

Linda previously served as vice president and attorney for National City Corporation, as securities and corporate governance counsel for Agilysys Inc., and as an associate at Thompson Hine LLP. She earned her JD at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Linda holds a degree in economics from Miami University and an MBA. In 2017, Linda was named as both a “Woman of Influence” by HousingWire and as a “Leading Lady” by MReport.


Chief Financial Officer

Joe Iafigliola

Joe Iafigliola is the Chief Financial Officer for Safeguard. Joe is responsible for the Control, Quality Assurance, Business Development, Accounting & Information Security departments, and is a Managing Director of SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Joe has been in a wide variety of roles in finance, supply chain management, information systems development, and sales and marketing. His career includes senior positions with McMaster-Carr Supply Company, Newell/Rubbermaid, and Procter and Gamble.

Joe has an MBA from The Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and holds a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University’s Honors Accounting program.


AVP, High Risk and Investor Compliance

Steve Meyer

Steve Meyer is the assistant vice president of high risk and investor compliance for Safeguard. In this role, Steve is responsible for managing our clients’ conveyance processes, Safeguard’s investor compliance team and developing our working relationships with cities and municipalities around the country. He also works directly with our clients in our many outreach efforts and he represents Safeguard at a number of industry conferences each year.

Steve joined Safeguard in 1998 as manager over the hazard claims team. He was instrumental in the development and creation of policies, procedures and operating protocol. Under Steve’s leadership, the department became one of the largest within Safeguard. In 2002, he assumed responsibility for the newly-formed high risk department, once again building its success. Steve was promoted to director over these two areas in 2007, and he was promoted to assistant vice president in 2012.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve spent 10 years within the insurance industry, holding a number of positions including multi-line property adjuster, branch claims supervisor, and multi-line and subrogation/litigation supervisor. Steve is a graduate of Grove City College.


AVP, Operations

Jennifer Jozity

Jennifer Jozity is the assistant vice president of operations, overseeing inspections, REO and property preservation for Safeguard. Jen ensures quality work is performed in the field and internally, to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations. Jen has demonstrated the ability to deliver consistent results in order audit and order management.  She will build upon these strengths in order to deliver this level of excellence in both REO and property preservation operations.

Jen joined Safeguard in 1997 and was promoted to director of inspections operations in 2009 and assistant vice president of inspections operations in 2012.

She graduated from Cleveland State University with a degree in business.


AVP, Finance

Jennifer Anspach

Jennifer Anspach is the assistant vice president of finance for Safeguard. She is responsible for the company’s national workforce of approximately 1,000 employees. She manages recruitment strategies, employee relations, training, personnel policies, retention, payroll and benefits programs. Additionally, Jennifer has oversight of the accounts receivable and loss functions formerly within the accounting department.

Jennifer joined the company in April 2009 as a manager of accounting and finance and a year later was promoted to director. She was named AVP of human capital in 2014. Prior to joining Safeguard, she held several management positions at OfficeMax and InkStop in both operations and finance.

Jennifer is a graduate of Youngstown State University. She was named a Crain’s Cleveland Business Archer Award finalist for HR Executive of the Year in 2017.


AVP, Application Architecture

Rick Moran

Rick Moran is the assistant vice president of application architecture for Safeguard. Rick is responsible for evolving the Safeguard IT systems. He leads the design of Safeguard’s enterprise application architecture. This includes Safeguard’s real-time integration with other systems, vendors and clients; the future upgrade roadmap for systems; and standards designed to meet availability, security, performance and goals.

Rick has been with Safeguard since 2011. During that time, he has led the system upgrades necessary to support Safeguard’s growth. In addition, Rick’s team has designed and implemented several innovative systems.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Rick was director of enterprise architecture at Revol Wireless, a privately held CDMA Wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana, and operated his own consulting firm providing services to the manufacturing, telecommunications, and energy sectors.


AVP, Technology Infrastructure and Cloud Services

Steve Machovina

Steve Machovina is the assistant vice president of technology infrastructure and cloud services for Safeguard. He is responsible for the overall management and design of Safeguard’s hybrid cloud infrastructure. He manages all technology engineering staff who support data centers, telecommunications, network, servers, storage, service monitoring, and disaster recovery.

Steve joined Safeguard in November 2013 as director of information technology operations.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was vice president of information technology at Revol Wireless, a privately held wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana. He also held management positions with Northcoast PCS and Corecomm Communications, and spent nine years as a Coast Guard officer and pilot.

Steve holds a BBA in management information systems from Kent State University in Ohio and an MBA from Wayne State University in Michigan.


Assistant Vice president of Application Development

Steve Goberish

Steve Goberish, is the assistant vice president of application development for Safeguard. He is responsible for the maintenance and evolution of Safeguard’s vendor systems ensuring high-availability, security and scalability while advancing the vendor products’ capabilities and enhancing the vendor experience.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was a senior technical architect and development manager at First American Title Insurance, a publicly held title insurance provider based in southern California, in addition to managing and developing applications in multiple sectors from insurance to VOIP.

Steve has a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University in Ohio.