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Dozens charged in Chatham County copper scheme

Posted May 28, 2013

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— Nearly 50 people have been charged following a two-year investigation into the illegal sale of copper, Chatham County sheriff’s deputies said Tuesday.

The investigation focused on Hayes Iron and Metal of Siler City, which authorities said was receiving copper without requiring sellers to show a permit. A 2012 state law requires anyone who possesses and transports more than 25 pounds of copper material to obtain a permit from the local sheriff and produce it at the business making the transaction.

Multiple agencies assisted in the investigaton, including the Randolph, Moore Alamance and Lee county sheriff’s offices, Siler City police and the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

A total of 47 people were served with warrants or are being sought, Chatham Chief Deputy Gary Blankenship said.

Chatham deputies arrested the following people last week:

  • Joshua Franks, 24, of 2339 Mount Vernon Springs Road, Siler City, was charged with transporting of copper-bearing material. He was released under a $1,500 unsecured bond.
  • George Keck, 26, of 2208 Alex Cockman Road, Pittsboro, was charged with transportation of copper-bearing material. He was released under a $500 unsecured bond.
  • Allen Jones, 37, of 883 Wellaway Lane, Siler City, was charged with failure to make/maintain records of metal, prohibited metal transactions, purchase a guard rail, purchase a regulated metal and impermissible payment method. He was released under a $1,000 unsecured bond.
  • Nicholas McKenzie, 23, of 1208 Oxford St., Siler City, was charged with transportation of copper-bearing material. He was released under a $500 unsecured bond.
  • Arthur Palmer, 29, of 2339 Mount Vernon Springs Road, Siler City, was charged with transporting copper-bearing material. He was released under a $1,500 unsecured bond.
  • Melodye Hudson, 42, of 315 Hope Farm Road, Siler City, was charged with transportation of copper-bearing material. She was released under a $5,000 unsecured bond.
  • Andrew Bass, 20, of 1688 Vander Oldham Road, Bear Creek, was charged with transportation of copper-bearing material. She was released under a $5,000 unsecured bond.
  • Ronald Abercrombie, 51, of 1650 Vander Oldham Road, Bear Creek, was charged with transportation of copper-bearing material. She was released under a $5,000 unsecured bond.
  • Brandon McCrimmon, 28, of 497 Edwards Hill Church Road, Siler City, was charged with transportation of copper. He was released under a written promise.
  • James Cotton, 35, of 499 Edwards Hill Church Rd, Siler City,was arrested for transportation of copper. He was released under a written promise.

All suspects were scheduled to appear in Chatham County District Court in Pittsboro on July 29.

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  • whatelseisnew May 28, 2013

    "Its the salvage yards and recyclers that allow stolen items to be sold. If there is no market to sell the thieves will no longer steal this stuff.The law needs to crack down on the scrap yard owners."

    There are laws on the books that can already be applied to the scrap yard folks. Now as to the thieves, first offense, cut off a hand. Second offense, cut off a foot. Third offense, death.
    Stealing will slow down. But people do not want to put laws in effect that actually will make the thieves think twice.

  • beachboater May 28, 2013

    There is a copper block that goes in cell phone towers. It costs $1,000 to replace it, and the thieves get $20 for it. The same ones were bringing in multiple blocks in the same day. Like for a morning fix and then an afternoon fix. They caught them, but nothing was done.

    Same here, not a single secured bond in the crowd.

    I have clients that have empty rental houses. The take a renter in, and guess what, NO PIPES!! NO AIR CONDITIONING!! Thousands of dollars in damages and nothing is done.

    There is a church near here. They got hit twice with 2 months. $12,000 in damage EACH TIME!!!! Don't worry about it, the insurance company will pay it, and the crooks got a hit of crack or meth out of the deal..

    "Wow DeaconBlues! You have a heck of a nice employer! Nice perk." VickLo

    Probably not a perk. Probably something to keep the employees from stealing it.

  • oleguy May 28, 2013

    Its the salvage yards and recyclers that allow stolen items to be sold. If there is no market to sell the thieves will no longer steal this stuff.The law needs to crack down on the scrap yard owners.

  • froggygirl May 28, 2013

    Tip of the iceberg. Metal thefts have been a problem in Chatham County for some time. Catalytic converters, building materials, you name it. Not just copper. I agree with claytontarheel about penalties.

  • itsnotmeiswear May 28, 2013

    The law needs to be changed to make the receipt of these goods a felony with mandatory prison time. The amount of damages these criminals do is becoming a major cost for businesses in NC. The new laws will not work if they don't put some real teeth in it.

  • VickLo May 28, 2013

    Wow DeaconBlues! You have a heck of a nice employer! Nice perk.

  • DeaconBlues May 28, 2013

    I'm guessing existing customers were grandfathered in? I've been selling to a recycler in Garner since 2008. Anywhere from 25lbs to even 100+ lbs at a time. Of course they id me, take my picture two or three times and have the tag number on my car. My stuff is all legit though, as my employer lets us take the copper home that we pull out on job sites. Never once have they told me I had to have a permit.

  • Hatchcover May 28, 2013

    A penny for your thoughts.