News 12 First at Five, September 21, 2007
Copper thefts are a statewide problem and investigators have seen a spike in Richmond County. The sheriff's office has a new plan to stop copper thieves. Lt. Tony Walden said he's seen a dramatic increase in copper thefts along with other metals over the past several months. Walden said they are trying to attack the problem from different directions, one way is monitoring salvage yards and pawn shops.
"We're going around and checking their records and getting copies of these records and trying to see who's coming in there on a regular basis or every day with copper," Walden said.
Lt. Walden said they have had a lot of help from the community which has helped catch several people. He said witnesses call about people tampering with air conditioners or people on private property acting suspicious.
"The road deputies are real good about if they stop a truck or something that maybe headed toward a recycling place that's got a lot of copper, they call us because unless you're in the air conditioning business, you're going to have to tell me where you got it from," Walden said.
Currently, investigators have to go to pawn shops to pick up copies of their transactions to inspect for copper and metal thefts. Right now, the guidelines under state law require metal recycle plants to allow investigators to inspect their records.
"We want it to where they have to have those records ready for us when we come around and we pick them up and bring them back to our office," he said.
Lt. Walden said if they have these records ready, they will be able to see who is coming in on a daily basis with copper.