The theft of metal from construction sites, railways, utilities and people’s homes has been running rampant for several years.
The Department of Energy estimates that copper theft alone costs businesses, consumers and taxpayers over a billion dollars a year!
Lawmakers across the United States have scrambled to enact laws in an attempt to curb the thievery, some of which include requiring scrap metal sellers to provide identification, stricter licensing requirements for scrap metal recyclers, and stiffer penalties for law breakers.
According to a study by the Council of State Governments (CSG) and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), however, there just isn’t enough data on metal thefts to know if the laws are doing any good. The CSG advises scrap recyclers and law enforcement to discuss developing uniform metal theft tracking methods.
A common sentiment expressed by law enforcement officers across the U.S. has been that it’s difficult to know which scrap metal materials are stolen, and which aren’t.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau released a report on metal theft this month, which ranked the top five states with the most reported insurance claims for the theft of metal. While it’s possible the data in this study are accurate, the NICB only tracks insurance claims of theft–but it’s impossible to know how many thefts go unreported.
ISRI facilitated the formation this year of the Metal Theft Law Enforcement Advisory Council, and also hosts a theft alert website for use by law enforcement officials and scrap metal recyclers. The website, ScrapTheftAlert.com, broadcasts theft alerts to email subscribers within a hundred mile radius of a reported metal theft.
According to the NICB study, the top 5 states for metal theft are:
The Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell metro accounted for about 1,200 of Georgia’s 2,067 thefts reported to insurance companies in 2013.
In Philadelphia, thieves snatch bicycles, barbeques and lawn chairs out of victims’ yards and sell them to recyclers. Local lawmakers have advocated a database in which to record all scrap metal recycling transactions.
The Central Valley’s farms and ranches have been hit hard by metal thieves in recent years, prompting Assemblyman Adam Gray to introduce a bill to create a Metal Theft Task Force, which would provide law enforcement agencies with grants to bolster their efforts in reducing metal thefts.
The Dallas-Ft. Worth-Arlington metro area reported 34% of the state’s 2,827 incidents.
Not only is Ohio the not-so-lucky winner of the top state for metal theft, but 2013 was its third year in a row! While the rest of the Nation’s metal theft incidents have decreased, albeit slightly, since 2010, Ohio’s have increased. This, in spite of tougher laws which require the registration of all scrap metal recycling businesses.