There Be Silver in Them There X-rays

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Here’s another bizarre heist. In September a man entered St. Joseph’s Medical Center posing as a representative from an x-ray film destruction company and stole 5,000 x-rays and radiological films. Police assume the man stole the x-rays to extract and sell their silver coating. They do not believe the thief was targeting patients’ personal information.

It’s true that x-ray images contain silver, but the amount used in a single film is negligible and has been decreasing since 1962. The x-rays stolen were from 2004, 2005, and 2007, so it’s likely that he’ll recover an ounce of silver for every ten or twenty pounds of x-rays.

Depending on the size of the films, it can take about fifteen x-rays to make a pound, which would mean our man stole a little over 300 pounds of x-rays, or 15 to 30 ounces of silver. Lately, the price of silver has been hovering $35 an ounce, putting my (rather imprecise) calculation of the total value of the heist at somewhere between $500 and $1,100 — a paltry sum for a heist that includes a disguise, I’d say. But take heart, thief. You can always hold onto it and see if the price goes up.



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