Scrap yards help law enforcement catch copper thieves - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Scrap yards help law enforcement catch copper thieves

By LeiLani Golden - bio | email

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - A rash of copper thefts in Thomas County is costing farmers thousands of dollars and leaving law enforcement searching for suspects. Now scrap yard workers are lending a hand to help catch the thieves.

Thomas County is the latest victim in a series of copper thefts plaguing the area.

"In other counties, we've been hearing about the wiring coming off air conditioners in homes and businesses," said Thomas County Sheriff's Investigator Pascal Autrey.

But in Thomas County, the thieves seem to target farm equipment, stealing the copper wiring out of irrigation pivots.

"They've been hit hard over the last few months," continued Autrey. "Now it's becoming a bigger problem now that prices have gone up in copper."

Thieves then take the copper from air conditioning units and farm equipment to recycling centers to cash in. Something like this would only fetch two to three dollars. But copper wiring from an irrigation system can reach thousands of dollars.

But now the scrap yards are fighting back and helping law enforcement catch criminals.

"We take pictures. Pictures of people selling stuff, we get IDs, photo copies of IDs, we get vehicle information, tag numbers," explains Kelley's Recycling employee Robert Griffin. "Anything we can really do to help if it does come up as stolen."

Scrap yard workers say taking these steps also protects them in case they do buy stolen materials.

"As long as we have ID and pictures, we're not liable," says Griffin.

And law enforcement appreciates the help.

"They're doing a better job," said Autrey. "They're not as high tech as some of the places in Albany, but they're doing better."

And they're making thieves think twice before stealing copper to make a quick buck.

Thomas County Investigators are currently working with surrounding counties to solve these cases. If you have any information on copper thefts, call the Thomas County Sheriff's Office at 225-3315.

 

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