Three metro Detroit sheriffs are joining together with AT&T and anti-crime groups to lobby for new laws to stop copper thieves, the Detroit Free Press reported today.

Like many areas across the country, stealing copper has become a popular pastime in southeastern Michigan, as the price of the precious metal stays at near-record levels of more than $3 a pound.

The copper from air conditioners is especially popular with thieves because access to the outdoor compressors is often easy.

The Free Press is reporting that Crime Stoppers of Southeastern Michigan is working with Wayne, Oakland and Macomb county sheriff departments to urge the state Legislature to pass laws requiring more oversight of scrap-metal dealers, a group which they say end up buying a lot of the stolen copper in the area.

The story is at www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080515/NEWS05/80515013.