Local News

Scrap Metal Hot Commodity For Raleigh Thieves

Posted March 29, 2004

— A group of Raleigh business owners think homeless people are stealing their scrap metal.

Why would they bother? The high price of metal is making the companies businesses a hot target for theft.

At Material Reclamation, a pile of old construction materials set for recycling is like a pile of gold to thieves.

Carlos Sarria said thieves are in and out of the company's lot at least twice a week and on weekends, looking for metals that can be resold.

"They take them next door to our neighbor," Sarria said.

The industrial corridor is full of metal recyclers. Sarria says thieves are probably trying to resell the goods next door. Copper is selling at a good price, at more than $1 a pound.

Sarria said he and his employers are certain the goods are stolen, because they can follow the trail. Behind a ridge, they have found metal lying around and evidence of fires in an area where people are known to camp out.

Sarria said it is like working for nothing and fears the problem is just getting worse.

"It's like someone goes into your house and steals something from you, you know, you feel like that kind of frustration," he said.

Raleigh police are investigating a case from a week ago where two people were found burning insulation from copper wiring.

Police say the case is difficult to investigate, because they cannot be sure of where the materials came from. The cases are also difficult to investigate because they are considered trespassing and police need to catch people in the act to charge them.

The general manager of Material Reclamation says the thefts have become a bigger problem in the last year.

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