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Higher demand for copper means more thefts

Wednesday, December 8, 2010 - 4:45pm

BATON ROUGE, La (NBC33) -- The demand for copper is on the rise, and so are the number of thefts. Right now, copper is selling for $2.70 a pound. Local recyclers say that's higher than it has been in a long time. Scrap yard companies have seen an increase in the number of copper items stolen from homes and businesses as the prices went up. In fact, those scrap yards have been victims themselves.

"It happens to us too," says Chip Hunter, vice president of Southern Recycling. "Believe it or not, people steal copper from us and try to sell it to other scrap companies."

It's a frustration for those in the business of recycling metal. "There's no upside to being in a position where you may have bought stolen goods," says Hunter.

Scrap yard companies, like Southern Recycling, have a long process that customers have to go through in order to keep them honest. First, customers have to present a photo ID anytime they plan to sell their scrap metal. The company photographs all the material that comes through their gate. They also check the license plate number of the vehicle that brings in the material. All of these things help to keep tabs on customers, and if the authorities have questions about stolen goods, they have all of this on file to help in the search.

Employees also keep a sharp eye out for anything unusual. "If a guy shows up with a truck load of aluminum copper radiators and he's not in the air conditioning business, then you question where he got his material," says Hunter.

These are just some of the things that scrap yard employees do to keep crime out of their yards. "This is not something we want to be a part of. No legitimate scrap company wants to be involved in this."

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