The Newest Threat to Civilization


We all need a change of pace today.

For weeks, The Pink Flamingo has been seeing the various headlines on Drudge.  Metal thieves are taking over the world – right?  Knowing how flaky Drudge has been at times, I gave it a pass.  Then I started delving into a few things.

This is serious! It is not just an American problem.  We’re dealing with people who will steal anything to get the bucks scrap metal dealers are now paying.  And, it is increasingly obvious that the scrap metal dealers are pond scum.

Several years ago, one Thanksgiving, I was visiting my sister in a city I shall not mention to protect the guilty.  I was staying upstairs in the room belonging to one of my two nieces.  My other niece was across the hall in her room.  I heard my sister just hooting, “What are you doing with a Stop Sign in your room?”

The night before, this individual who shall remain nameless had gone out with friends.  There was a new stop sign on a street that had never had one, and was, in their defense, a “stupid” place to put the sign.  So, not quite sober, they took the sign, as their civic duty.

Several members of their group were due at the wedding of their parents the following day.  One teen’s mother was marrying the father of a couple of the kids.  The male member of the wedding party was trying to do something and hold up the stolen stop sign.  I think they were taking pictures of the event.  He held the sign in his mouth, breaking his front teeth.  He was due to be in the wedding party in about four hours.

I never knew what happened, but evidently, a good time was had by most of the group.

I am using the tawdry, and very true tale to illustrate what metal thievery once was – usually a prank of stealing signs by college and high school kids when they were not quite sober.  What is going on today is entirely different.  The record high prices for metal is the primary culprit.

I’m hearing that China is greatly in need of metal and is asking no questions.  This may or may not be true. I’m also reading that drug addicts are the “usual” suspects.  That appears to be a simplistic culprit.

The Commercial Appeal

In Phoenix they are stealing catalytic converters.

My FOX Phoenix

In West Virginia, the cops think they are drug addicts.

“…Beckley Police Sgt. David Allard said if a lightning strike would have hit the hospital, it could have caused “catastrophic damage” to medical equipment. Numerous lives certainly were put in jeopardy. Phone company officials frequently report copper line thefts. Often times lines are cut in rural areas and phone service is shut down. Again, a life-and-death scenario. And then we get the reports of individuals being electrocuted, dying while trying to filch metal.

Many times we talk about the drug epidemic we are facing. Theft of copper and aluminum has also turned into an epidemic. Sadly, law enforcement authorities will tell you that in a lot of cases the thievery is taking place to support drug addictions….”

They are targeting utilities, especially in the Maricopa County area.  They are stealing art.   In Yorkshire metal thieves caused a house to explode. They are stealing huge metal beams.  Basically, anything not tied down is being stolen.  In Jamaica the problem is so severe, the government has, this past month, completely banned scrap metal recycling.   The same thing is happening in the Bahama, where they are planning to stop the export of scrap copper.  Churches are being victimized in the UK.  The same thing is happening  here.  In Deland, Florida they are stealing street signs.  In Scotland, nearly $164300 worth of wiring and tubing have been stolen from a major construction site.  In Minneapolis they are stealing cars and having them crushed for the metal.  They are in Toronto.

“…MINDLESS thieves who stole a drain hole cover put a father and young baby at risk while out walking. Dan Johns was with his young daughter in the car park of the former Focus DIY store on Aberaman Industrial Estate when he nearly tripped over an open drain cover. He said:“I have noticed that there are a few drain covers missing in Focus car park. “On Sunday I was walking over to Cwmbach with my nine-month-old daughter when I didn’t notice it and nearly fell down it with the pram. “Thankfully, I noticed it before it was too late but it’s really dangerous and someone needs to sort it out because sooner or later someone will get hurt.”..”

The same thing is happening in Houston.

Click 2 Houston

The problem is world wide, not just here in New Mexico where they hit Torrance County in March, doing a tremendous amount of damage.

“…In once case, White said they not only stripped the outside walls of a trailer, they also ripped out the drywall in order to get to the copper piping. They also took the stove, refrigerator and furnace panels. Other properties have had rebar, I-joists, and farming equipment like plows, sprinklers and irrigation pipes taken.

“They have gone as far as taking a quarter mile of fencing,” said White. “They actually took the poles out of the ground for a quarter mile.”

The metal is then cashed in at scrap metal yards for cash. The sheriff’s department said none of the stolen good have ended up at the scrap metal yard in Torrance County. They believe the metal is being taken to Bernalillo County.

But the accused thieves are not all getting away with it. The sheriff’s department made 17 arrests over the last couple weeks. Investigators think most of the thefts are connected. During one arrest, they recovered a vehicle equipped with a torch, generator and cutting tools to make the thefts quicker.

Sheriff White expects many more arrests to come. He said the public is fed up and is now reporting any suspicious activity.

Deputies are now working with the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Division’s Recyclable Metal task force which regulates these scrap metal yards. They want the businesses to keep better records of those who sell scrap metal and report it to authorities if they believe the goods are stolen….”

Glendale and Peoria in Arizona – just a few weeks ago, they hit city parks.

“…The damage has been extensive. Glendale and Peoria officials estimate they will spend about $50,000 each to replace light posts that were pulled from the ground and water valves that vanished.

In most cases, metal scrap yards would have paid the thieves less than $1,000 for the items stolen from the parks.

“They weren’t just stealing a few hundred feet of copper wiring. They were stealing literally thousands of feet of copper wiring in one park,” said Mike Gregory, Glendale’s parks and recreation manager.

Glendale saw more than a dozen copper thefts in its parks from November through February and repairs continued for weeks. Just last month, lighting was restored to Butler Park in downtown Glendale for the first time since January….”


In Atlanta, AT&T is livid.  They are going after phone lines. In Redlands, CA, they are stealing brass sprinkler parts.   Why are they doing it?

“…This one was discovered Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, the cemetery remains thick with bronze and copper devices supporting medallions and American flags.

The theft of rare metals has become an increasing problem. Within minutes of the discovery of the stolen bronze at St. Mary’s, a man in Salem was seen cutting and stealing copper pipes from an abandoned home on Boston Street. (He hasn’t been apprehended.) Electric wiring can also be targeted.

The Legislature is currently considering a bill, co-sponsored by Attorney General Martha Coakley, which would make it more difficult for scrap metal dealers to buy stolen items. Such purchases would be regulated and recorded via a registry.

The registry, according to a press release from Coakley’s office, would be “designed to increase the availability of the records and identities of metal scrap dealers, sellers and their wares to law enforcement. The legislation also allows for more accurate record-keeping and tracking of items and their sellers, so that stolen metals are more easily recovered.”…”

Noseweek Online

Scrap metal is paying a bit more.  It is the perfect scam for drug addicts.  The problem with this theory is that the theft requires some organization and a little bit of daring.  I think pawning it off on crack addicts is a cheap way of pawing off the problem to the usual suspects.

“…AT&T, the target of more than 200 copper thefts since the beginning of the year, is intensifying efforts to catch the thieves responsible. The telecommunications company said Tuesday it is still offering a reward of up to $3,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspects responsible for stealing wiring from its telephone poles.

Thieves, like recyclers, want to cash in on the rising demand for the metal in countries like China.

In the south Fulton city of Fairburn alone there have been 14 incidents of copper thefts from AT&T polls this year — six so far this month, spokeswoman Emily Edmonds said Tuesday. In nearby Palmetto, copper thieves have struck poles eight times this year. “These thieves are actually using deer stands or they’re backing up trucks to the poles to climb up to actually cut the copper cable, and it’s all AT&T poles,” said Edmonds, who would not put a dollar figure on the thefts or related damage.

“Our biggest concern is when these copper wires are cut, obviously the phones are down and emergency services can’t be reached,” the spokeswoman said. That means people dialing 911 on land lines won’t be able to get through. There have been at least 32 incidents of copper thefts targeting AT&T poles in Atlanta so far this year, the majority in Fulton County….”

FOX Nation

Some communities are beginning to fight back with new laws targeting scrap metal dealers who appear to be quite culpable in the purchasing of items that are obviously stolen.  In Arkansas, the new laws force scrap metal dealers to be accountable.

“…Act 1193 of 2011 takes effect July 27. The law makes it illegal to sell any kind of scrap metal, including copper, unless the sellers have documentation on the origin of the metal and can prove they have permission to sell it. The measure amended previous legislation approved by lawmakers to address copper thefts.

Laws passed in 2007 required scrap metal dealers to keep better records of transactions and made the offense of theft of scrap metal a felony. A 2009 law expanded the record-keeping requirement to include a photograph and fingerprint of the seller be put into an electronic database.

Hutchinson said Wednesday that he has received a number of telephone calls from scrap dealers who are unhappy with the requirements because they feel they have placed an additional burden on them. The dealers also don’t think the laws are being enforced fairly, he said.  “They’re saying they’re doing all those new requirements for law enforcement and that (the enforcement) is not being applied evenly,” Hutchinson said. “Some of the larger dealers also say that some of the smaller scrap metal dealers are not following the regulations.”…”

This Is Leicestershire

When over 200 manhole and drain covers are stolen in Leicestershire County, UK, it makes one wonder just how honest the scrap recyclers are.  Obviously they realize the items they are purchasing are stolen, so why are they doing it?  Even when, according to local authorities, the thieves are taking the items out of the area to sell, one would think the dealers should be held accountable.

“...Tubing and wires were taken from home air conditioning units in New Castle. Police aren’t sure if these are the same thieves who cut down hundreds of feet of copper wire from Penn Power poles in nearby Beaver Township, but said someone could be electrocuted by messing with the power lines or innards of air conditioners…”

Authorities think the thieves are selling the metal to buy drugs.

In Hollywood, FL, they are going after foreclosed homes.

“….In Flossmoor, a vacant property in the 1600 block of Markey Lane was burglarized Sunday, June 19. A neighbor told police they saw two men parking a teal Toyota Camry in the driveway of the home, then walking around the fence carrying a tool, according to the report. The neighbor then saw the men return to the vehicle carrying what appeared to be an air-conditioning unit, police said.

In a second Flossmoor incident, a real estate agent discovered a vacant, foreclosed home in the 18000 block of Crawford Avenue had been targeted by a metal thief. Copper pipe and a furnace were stolen from the property sometime between June 17 and 28.

In Homewood last week, a Munster man was checking a foreclosed home in the 17000 block of Rockwell Avenue, when he found it had been stripped of several metal components. Taken from the back of the home was 12 feet of copper pipe, a metal utility tub and the house’s water meter, police said. Police believe the theft took place between June 14 and June 24. The loss is estimated at $800.

In another Homewood case at a foreclosed home in the 2000 block of Spruce Road, someone removed copper from an air-conditioning unit and broke an east-facing kitchen window (damage estimated at $400) to gain entry, police said. Approximately $4,000 in metal was taken from the attic. A suspicious person was spotted June 25 near the building’s air-conditioning unit, according to police….”

This is Tamworth, UK

In Romania they stole 64 warheads.

Mail On Line

They then found the warheads.

“…Law enforcement officials theorize it is easy money for drug addicts who also think nothing of stealing plumbing, downspouts, storm doors, telephone poles, radiators, utility wires, even manhole covers, to feed their habits. Scrap metal dealers pay anywhere from $2 to $4 a pound for metals like brass and copper. Aluminum can fetch 65 cents a pound while regular scrap metal, such as that found in appliances, can bring in 12.5 cents a pound.

With the rise in metal theft, police have become more alert to suspicious activity that can be indicative of metal thieves. Officials in some municipalities, such as Aston, have made it illegal for scavengers or commercial dealers to raid curbside trash because it deprives the township of scrap revenue culled from legitimate sales.

In 2008, Pennsylvania legislators tried to do their part to dampen the purchase of ill-gotten metal gains by passing Act 113. It requires scrap processors and recycling facilities to keep for two years, records on all transactions of more than $100 that include a copy of the seller’s driver’s license, the license plate number of the seller’s vehicle, a description of the material purchased, its weight and the amount paid for it. They can only purchase certain items such as catalytic converters and beer kegs, from commercial sellers. Dealers who violate the law may be fined $2,500 for the first offense. Subsequent offenses carry higher penalties.

Of course, thieves can circumvent such regulations by taking stolen items to scrap dealers in states with less stringent laws. The scrap metal industry is trying to do its part in foiling illegal sales through its online website that posts alerts via e-mail to dealers within a 100-mile radius of where items have been stolen.

The Philadelphia Scrap Metal Theft Network, founded by PECO officials who have endured metal theft, shares information about stolen scrap metal with 150 members in the Mid-Atlantic region including law enforcement officials.

One of the best ways to foil the theft of metal from cemeteries, homes, utilities, public transit and anywhere else is for passersby to report suspicious activity to police.

When captured, scrap metal thieves, just like vandals, should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. They can be counted among the predators who gnaw away at the civilized world…”

New Zealand

“...STAFF and volunteers at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway have spoken of their heartbreak after thieves raided their Toddington workshops. The crooks made off with a number of valuable steam locomotive fittings and other components worth an estimated £60,000 in what is being described as a well-organised raid.

It is thought the burglary, which took place overnight between Monday, July 18, and Tuesday, July 19, saw the thieves break down a fence and cross the tracks. They first broke into the main David Page locomotive shed and former goods shed and then used the railway’s own flame cutting equipment to burn their way into secure steel storage containers. This latest blow comes on the back of two major embankment collapses during the last couple of years for which a £1 million emergency appeal is still running.
Neil Carr, the railway’s operations director, said he thought the attack was carefully planned.

“We believe this is the work of metal thieves who ignored a lot of valuable equipment and concentrated only on non-ferrous metals such as copper, brass and bronze,” he said.
“The price of such metals on world markets has significantly increased over the past couple of years and there is a ready market for it, particularly in the Far East. They may have got away with up to a ton of metal.

“The tragedy is that steam locomotive components can’t easily be replaced.” Mr Carr said one item stolen, a brake ejector, is worth about £15,000 because it involves many intricate moving parts inside, but would only be worth about £60 as scrap metal. “This loss is heartbreaking and it will deeply touch volunteers who devote thousands of skilled hours of their spare time restoring a vital aspect of Britain’s transport heritage,” he added. “It’s going to involve a huge amount of work to replace everything. The gang also caused a considerable amount of damage to find what they were looking for.”..”

This Is Scunthorpe

Where does all of this end?

It is obvious the cops, world-wide, are trying to deal with it.  Perhaps one of the problems is the fact that they are delusional, blaming some very sophisticated operation on drug addicts.  Some of the thefts are just that, but, after reading through the list of metal thefts – just for the English speaking world, and JUST for July, 2011, it is obvious quite a bit of the theft is very well organized.

Also quite obvious that the real culprits are the scrap metal dealers.  From what I gather, they are paying just pennies on the dollars they are getting from what appears to be their primary purchaser – China.

Scrap metal dealers are now complaining that states are beginning to push rules and regulations on them.  It’s about time.  When a dealer cries ignorance for taking perfectly good manhole covers from a couple of strung out jerks, you know the dealer is pond scum.

These people have no morality.

There are times when government can be used to make life a living hell for certain segments of society who deserve it.  It sure looks like the scrap metal dealers do.  If something isn’t done to crack down on these unethical dealers, you’re going to see some idiot try stealing the cables off the Golden Gate Bridge!