Law enforcers form copper theft task force - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Law enforcers form copper theft task force

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

July 3, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -  Because of the skyrocketing number of thefts, officers will now be posted at each of the three recycling businesses in the Albany area. They hope the police presence will make it harder for thieves to sell stolen metal. 

Copper and metal thefts in Dougherty County are at an all time high, hurting dozens of business and homeowners. Wednesday, we showed you the half million dollars worth of damage copper thieves did to Flint River Services refrigeration units.

"We got to come up with a way to stop it," said Flint River Services President Lem Griffin.

Today Dougherty County law enforcement formed a task force to try and do just that. 

The Albany Police, Dougherty County Police, Sheriff's Office, and D. A.'s Office will each assign two officers to the task force, concentrating on copper and metal theft only.

"We want the metal thieves to know there is going to be direct intervention by these officers," said Dougherty Chief Assistant District Attorney Greg Edwards.

Officers will be posted at each of the three metal recycling businesses in Albany, looking for the thieves as they try to sell stolen copper and items.  Southeastern Aluminum Recycling owner H. B. Wiley said he welcomes the officers. 

Task Force leader Greg Edwards said they are also joining with law enforcement in surrounding areas. "So they won't just go over to the next county or jurisdiction to try to sell there.  It has to be an area wide effort so we won't just move the problem from one part of the state to the other."

Copper is selling for an all time high of more than three dollars a pound, and law enforcement is trying to fight the growing crime wave taking advantage of those record prices.

The recycling business owners in Albany wouldn't talk to us on camera.  They did tell us they are forming a coalition of their own to respond to the copper theft problem. 

 They say they are meeting with law enforcement and city officials to address the metal thefts.

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