I've noted before on this blog that the cost of minting a penny has now risen over 1 cent, and the cost of minting a nickel has now risen over 5 cents. I've heard stories about people stealing copper pipes and such, just so they can sell it as scrap metal. Cents, especially those made before 1982, have enough copper in them that a few coffee cans' worth of them could bring in several dollars--certainly more than face value.
Some people, as the numismatic press has noted, are selling their coins to be melted for scrap. It hasn't been illegal--until now.