Getting a grip on metal thefts - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Getting a grip on metal thefts

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By Wainwright Jeffers - bio | email

September 19, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Police may finally be gaining ground in their battle with copper thieves.

Metal theft has been a huge problem across south Georgia.

In Albany, better communication between law enforcers and businesses seems to be working.

Both Albany and Dougherty county police have are trying to get a handle on the rash of copper thefts.

"I think it's working very well, as far as the response time with the APD coming over here. Dougherty county especially, they're doing an outstanding job," said Amelia Coe, Southeastern Aluminum Recycling.

Copper thieves strike businesses, homeowners, and even the city, stealing cooper and other scrap metal to sell for cash.

"What they're seeing is that there hasn't been a drastic increase or decrease in metal thefts," said Phyllis Banks-Whitley, Albany Police Media Manager.

Recycling places like this one know what to look for, and even has a list of who not to sell to.

"It's a list of convicted felons, and people we know are shady. They have tried to rip us of before, so we just do not buy from them," said Coe.

Some companies in the area have also resorted to marking the metal they own.

"They're marking their air conditioning grills with a certain color like florescent pink, and then they'll call us and give us a description of how they're marking their coils. If we see anything like that come in we immediately contact the police," said Coe.

"It's not just communication with the recycling places here in town, it's communication with the citizens, if you see things like this it's very important to contact police," said Banks-Whitley.

So far communication and increase policing of the recycling companies is proving successful in trying to curb thefts.

"It's been working very well, we get daily e-mail reports on any kind of copper thefts from Albany and surrounding counties," said Coe.

Southeastern Aluminum says the fact that prices for copper are starting to drop could also help deter criminals form damaging expensive equipment for a few bucks.

In one recent case, police are still trying to locate brothers Stanley and Melvin Keys. 

Police say they removed coils and copper from an air conditioning unit in the 1000 block of Crawford Drive about a month ago.

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