Fence with Lock

Metals theft is not a victimless crime.

It’s been a while since we brought up metals theft in our blog, however, the issue persists in an ongoing fight by local law enforcement officials, scrap yards, and even individuals. If you have never been a victim of metals theft, that is great – we hope you never will be! But we want to keep you at the front of the issue so you understand the indirect impact it has on others, businesses and the community you live in. After all, awareness is the biggest influence of preventing crime. Even if you have witnessed a metals theft, do you know it can be reported? You can help in the fight against crime that is widespread and costs individuals and companies thousands of dollars every year.

So, at what cost?

So far this year, the US has received a total of 564 alerts on the Scrap Theft Alert website (www.scraptheftalert.com), which has also logged a total of 425 users. These alerts accumulated a total of $28,627.50 in recovered property. At the end of last year in 2015, the nationwide totals were 1,518 alerts and $106,200.00 in recovered property. Not only is the loss of property and value a concern, it is a nuisance and danger.

See what officials are saying:

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, better known as ISRI, is the primary voice of the recycling industry, leading the way in advocating the critical role scrap recycling plays in the US economy, global trade and the environment. They recently published a video entitled “Fighting Metals Theft: Perspectives from Law Enforcement and Industry” that is worth watching. See below.

Metals theft is a huge issue all over the world. ISRI offers an online reporting system to law enforcement and recyclers which is free to use. It sends out prompt alerts to recyclers in a 100-mile radius from where the theft occurred. The alerts contain vital information such as the location, description of the material and vehicle information that may have been involved in the theft.

How does TT&E get involved?

A lot goes on in the background, especially in our scrap yard, to prevent scrap metal theft. As a part of TT&E’s scrap metal recycling process, we ask all of our customers to follow certain check-in points when processing your scrap metal. For example, when you drop off scrap metal at our facility, we require a valid NC drivers license or NC identification card. You may also use a valid driver’s license or state identification from other US states.

Next, we will take your photo, a photo of your haul, as well as your vehicle tag number – which is required by NC state law. Your photo is taken again upon weigh-in. At our outbound scales, your unloaded vehicle weight will be logged with your TT&E profile. All of this ensures you are properly paid for your load, but also for tracking purposes in our computerized system. Every transaction is tracked and recorded –  from weigh-in, weigh-out and payment.

We also apply many standard practices daily to detect stolen metal. We are always on the lookout and closely observe any material before purchasing. Alert systems are also in place to help identify possible thefts before the metal is brought in to our scrap yard. Many metal objects are easliy recognizable as stolen items and can be refused right away. However, many times metal doesn’t contain markings or serial numbers which can make identification more difficult.

What metals are most commonly stolen?

More commonly, metal items containing copper are reported as the most stolen property. Copper piping, cabling or objects containing copper. This includes batteries, conduit, plumbing, condenser coils from AC units, and the like. Some thieves are more daring and will even steal cast iron manhole covers that are in plain sight. As you can imagine, this is not just a threat to the cost or value of the metal, but the safety and purpose of which it is used for which can negatively impact others.

Because non-ferrous metals such as copper, brass and aluminum do not contain significant quantities of steel or iron, they are more valuable metals and therefore more commonly stolen.

How can I help?

In summary, there is always room for improvement to prevent, identify and increase awareness of scrap metal theft. Better communication is key. Registering alerts, notifying local law enforcement is always helpful. To prevent yourself from being a victim of stolen metal items, make sure you keep locks on your sheds and garages and other metal items out of plain view – especially around the holidays. Home burglaries and robberies tend to occur most often during the winter months as we prepare to go out of town and purchase gifts.

If you notice a suspicious activity or come across a metal theft in our area, immediately contact local law enforcement officials. You can also report it online, anonymously. Visit Garner Police Department and Report it Online >>