Not OK to take the metal

March 7, 2013
By: Vicki Bell

I confess. The first thing I read in the free local newspaper that’s tossed in my driveway each Wednesday is the Public Safety section that lists the DUIs, drug arrests, and crime in my community. Fortunately, the latter usually consists of shoplifting and an occasional burglary. Imagine my surprise when I discovered an item in yesterday’s issue that hit close to my “metal fabricating” home.

There it was on page three, under the headline: ‘Didn’t know’ he shouldn’t take metal.

A 50-year-old man was arrested and charged with theft by taking for stealing scrap metal from Alpharetta, Ga.-based Metcam, a company I’ve visited and written about, as have some of my co-workers.

According to the news report, “At 11 p.m. Feb. 23, a deputy was dispatched to the business after reports of a suspicious vehicle. The deputy said when he arrived, he saw a red pickup truck with a bed full of sheets of metal and (the alleged perpetrator) hiding behind the building.

“The deputy asked (said perpetrator) what he was doing behind the building and he replied, ‘Getting some scrap metal.’

“The deputy then asked if he had permission to do so, and (the perpetrator) said, ‘I didn’t know I couldn’t do this.’”

In the past few years, I’ve written blog posts, such as this one, about metal theft—how it’s become a growing crime and the measures being proposed to curb the illegal sale to junk dealers and recyclers. (Regarding the latter, California did pass SB 691 referenced in the cited blog post, which went into effect December 1, 2008.)

Other state legislatures are addressing metal theft, and some efforts are falling short. Just this week, KAIT8, out of Jonesboro, Ark., reported about a bill shot down in Arkansas that was intended to cut down on copper thefts in the state.

Interviewed for the report was Craighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd, who hopes legislators still can do something to crack down on copper thefts.

Boyd said, “We’re combating this problem daily. We’re not by ourselves. It’s every law enforcement agency in Arkansas.”

Boyd believes the bill, House Bill 1414, failed because “they thought it was too restrictive” and might deter legitimate people from selling scrap metal. Legislators reportedly have until Monday, March 11, to submit another bill on this issue.

I doubt legislation would deter the Metcam thief—and others like him—who didn’t know it wasn’t OK to take the metal. However, anyone who has ever been the victim of metal theft and those who have to investigate these crimes would be most appreciative of stronger rules and stricter enforcement.

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Vicki Bell

Vicki Bell

FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123
Phone: 815-227-8209