Metal thefts rising in Marion County – WISH

October 30, 2014 Posted by admin

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Criminals are cashing in on scrap metal more than they were six years ago. A new study by the University of Indianapolis found the total loss of stolen metal was about $16 million during a two-year period. That’s about $690,000 a month.

One particular piece of metal that’s pretty easy to reach is being snatched out from underneath cars much more often than they used to be. It’s scrappy trash that’s truly another man’s treasure.

“We have approximately 80,000 pounds (of metal) come through a week,” said Bill Derbes, General Manager at Zore’s Recycling.

His company sees all kinds of metal come through its plant. Customers hope to earn a few bucks off piles of copper and steel, but not everyone stepping up the scale has the best intentions.

“The stolen scrap looks just like scrap that’s perfectly legitimate,” he said.

At the center was a bin filled with catalytic convertors, but to a thief, it’s a rusty gold mine.

“That’s the problem. All it takes is a saw and somebody to crawl underneath it at night. Unfortunately, they can take it right off your vehicle and you’ll never know until you start it up and it’s very loud obviously because the exhaust system’s been compromised,” said Derbes.

And crooks are doing it more often in Marion County. The UIndy study found that stolen catalytic convertors make up 14 percent of metal thefts, which is up from 9 percent in 2008. Stolen appliances make up 25 percent, up from 14 percent in 2008.

“It’s stealing from us, it’s stealing money from us,” said Don Glowinski.

Glowinski co-owns DP Mechanical Services, an HVAC company. And unfortunately, it’s not just his customers who have been victimized.

“We’ve had some units getting ready to scrap and by the next morning, someone else has already beat us to it,” he said.

The AC units were sitting outside his business when they were stripped clean. It’s a reason one of their units is now out of arms reach, mounted about 10 feet high against the building.

“They’re not going to go through that much trouble for a few bucks,” Glowinski smirked.

But if they do, scrap yards like Zore’s makes sure it won’t go unnoticed.

“We take a copy of the driver’s license for the person selling the scrap. We take a photograph of the person selling. We take a photograph of the scrap that they sold. We don’t want to buy illegitimate scrap,” said Derbes.

Glowinski has regulations for his workers when they scrap metal as well. They’re required to bring a letter with the company’s letter head on it. The letter will include exactly which items will be recycled.

Here’s a list of ways to make sure you don’t become a victim:

  1. Keep garage doors closed.
  2. Pull vehicles into garages at night.
  3. Park in secure places, with lights and controlled entry points.
  4. Communicate with neighbors about crime and suspicious activity.
  5. Be especially alert after a theft in the area.
  6. Maintain vacant property. Under certain circumstances, state law allows neighbors to intervene and clean up others’ neglected lots, which can attract crime.

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