The rise of the Internet makes close coordination with local law enforcement key to nab-a-scrap-thief efforts

Mar 01, 2010 | 04:45 AM |

Whether it's a large haul of stainless steel pipe taken from outside Yankee Stadium in New York or some scrap at a construction site in rural West Virginia, metal thefts present more than a supersized headache for the recycling industry.

A nationwide wave of metal thefts that began several years ago has now moved way past the nuisance stage for most recyclers. For some, it's turning into day-to-day trench warfare in a battle against not only the thieves but also a rising tide of new paperwork and record-keeping requirements.

In some areas, regional efforts by scrap companies to combat thefts are paying off. The Middle Georgia Metal Theft Committee is one example. The alliance of recyclers, other local businesses and law enforcement officers has been credited by Georgia police for several important arrests. In Macon alone, metal thefts fell to just nine in 2008—when the regional alliance was operating—from 84 the previous year.

There's general agreement in the industry that close coordination with local law enforcement agencies is essential. "We're seeing a number of significant success stories," said Gary Bush, who heads the Metal Theft Prevention unit at the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI).....

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