Tulsa Police, Businesses Fight Copper Theft Through Partnership

Tuesday, December 21st 2010, 6:55 pm
By: News On 6

Lori Fullbright, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Police say the theft of metal is a huge problem. Thieves steal copper from churches, schools, and even light poles along the highway.

A new partnership is trying to put the brakes on this fast growing crime.

Scrap metal dealers and police are tracking these thieves together to make sure they can't profit at someone else's expense.

Borg Compressed Steel is a member of the Oklahoma Recyclers Association. The organization is committed to help police be on the lookout for thieves trying to sell stolen copper and other metals.

"We keep an eye for it actively. If we see something, we make sure we get good documentation about who it was, where it was and contact local law enforcement agencies," said Chuck Cale of Borg Steel.

The association has a website that it encourages police and businesses all over the state to use to report metal thefts.

They sent cards to every police department, sheriff's office and tribal police, urging them to do just that. And, it's working.

"There was a bulletin about some guys who broke down a gate, took a trailer load full of copper, it came out of Arkansas and we got them on our scales four days later," Cale said.

Tulsa Police say they are glad for the help because metal theft is a huge problem that's getting bigger.

"If I get 50 cases a day, at least 10 deal with copper theft in some way, shape or form," said Tulsa Police Sgt Brandon Watkins.

Tulsa police arrested two men Tuesday for steeling metal. One of them worked as a contractor for Tulsa's public works department and has since been fired.

12/21/2010 Related Story: Tulsa Public Works Employee Fired After Metal Theft Bust

Police say the goal is to make it so hard for thieves to sell stolen metal, that the thefts will begin to drop. They say this new partnership with metal dealers is critical for making that happen.

"They've really gone out of their way to help the police," Brandon said.

Borg Steel also sends out warning stickers to churches, schools and other places that have been especially hard hit by copper thieves.