Commissioner working on Augusta copper theft problem

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News 12 at 6:00, June 14, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga. --- Stealing scrap metal to make a quick buck. It's one of the biggest crimes in Richmond County. Augusta Commissioner Corey Johnson looking to make selling stolen copper impossible by enforcing stricter guidelines.

"If you have somebody coming in more than once, I would say twice a month, it should raise an eyebrow. Because it's not that frequent that you come across copper," Corey Johnson said.

He's working with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, to get an ordinance drafted to deter these people from trying to steel and sell copper. He says it would work because it would require all recycling companies to I-D everybody every time they come in. But it's not just about getting a copy of their driver's license. Johnson wants the recycling companies to take a picture of the people who are coming in and selling scrap metal.

"It kind of gives the Sheriff's Department a great opportunity to maybe catch up with some of the criminals that are coming in," Johnson said.

And the problem is hitting his district harder than all the others. It's gone from breaking into air conditioning units to get copper, to murder just in the last two weeks. Now CMC recycling is looking to tighten it's standards too after an unarmed security guard was shot and killed for copper.

"I'm not guaranteeing that this is going to stop but it definitely will deter the crime from happening as frequent as it has been," Johnson said.

Johnson says with the recent murder, something has to be done.

"We realize this is a big problem. And we want to stop it before it gets to bad. It's bad enough that someone lost their life, but you know it could be a lot worse. And we definitely want to make sure we do what we can to hit it off at this point," Johnson said.

Commissioner Johnson says the ordinance will go before the Augusta Commission within the next few weeks. And he's hoping to enforce it by July 1st.

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