GARNER, N.C. — Duke University is the latest victim of scrap metal thieves. Earlier this week, the Salvation Army in Raleigh lost as much as 3,000 pounds of copper to crooks.
The price of copper has hit a record high, and thieves are cashing in. They have to try to fence their stolen goods somewhere, however, and one business they have tried to use is on the side of law enforcement.
“It’s something that is easy to take in a lot of situations, since it’s [in] houses under construction or abandoned buildings,” said Garner Police Sgt. Chris Clayton.
Taking the metal only gets the thieves halfway, and they have to convert the metal to cash somehow. They have been taking the scrap to recycling plants, such as TT&E in Garner, but quick thinking and technology have stopped some thieves in their tracks.
Scrap-metal workers called police after getting a tip about the theft from Duke. Police said surveillance video caught Samuel Holloway, 63, hauling in nearly 700 pounds of copper, worth $1,200.
When stolen storm grates were reported missing in Durham, they also showed up at TT&E. A tip about two men bringing in a large amount of scrap metal lead to two arrests.
“That really helps us out when businesses are interested in helping us solve crimes,” Clayton said.
TT&E invested in high-tech security equipment after the company itself was victimized. The owner said thieves got away with $50,000 worth of copper.