Earlier this year the state Legislature passed a law making it illegal for scrap yards and recycling centers to buy certain kinds of scrap metal without proof of lawful possession.
The law took effect in mid-June. A Frontier spokesman said in October that the number of thefts the utility was experiencing had declined but it would take longer to see if that was a trend.
State Farm, the largest insurer of homes in West Virginia, has seen significant increases of claims for copper and other metal thefts over the last few years, said company spokeswoman Amy Preddy.
"State Farm sees many claims coming from older homes with copper pipes, rental dwellings and vacant homes," Preddy said. "Theft often occurs quickly. For example: renters may move out one day, and the copper is gone the next."
Preddy said property that is difficult to access is less attractive to criminals.
"The average burglar will spend no more than four to five minutes trying to break into a residence," so it is important for homeowners to secure windows and doors, she said.
"Well-placed lights and motion-sensor lights eliminate possible hiding spots and can be a low-cost way to help deter potential thieves."
Installing a cage over an outdoor air conditioning unit may deter thieves who target the copper coils, she said.
Also, "education and awareness of the problem of copper theft may help discourage thieves and encourage people to report suspicious behavior," Preddy said.
"Be a good neighbor and keep an eye out for suspicious activity in your neighborhood. Call the police immediately if you see suspicious activity or signs of a break-in."
Preddy noted that taking precautions to reduce damage and theft reduces the number of claims that homeowners file, and that helps keep insurance premiums low.
Prior to Thursday's power outage, the most well-known copper theft in Charleston occurred in June 2010 when the historic Fernbank School bell was stolen from a South Hills display.
Charleston police recovered the bell, which was sawed and hammered into chunks, from scrap dealers. In March 2011 Charles Brett Cook, Jeffrey Phelix and Michael Phillips pleaded guilty to the burglary.
Contact writer George Hohmann at busin...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.