Detecting metal thefts not always easy

Sacramento BeeJanuary 10, 2012 

Dec. 18: 2200 block of O Street, Sacramento. "Officers responded to calls of two hazards where the manhole covers had been removed. City crews responded and replaced them." – Sacramento police report

California's Sacramento region is under assault by metal thieves, with copper wiring being stripped from utility poles and air conditioning units, brass plaques being pried from monument walls, and manhole covers and wastewater drains being plucked from city streets.

So where is it all going?

The most obvious prospect might be your neighborhood recycling center, where mountains of crushed soda cans, water bottles and piles of twisted metal and copper abound.

But that isn't necessarily the case.

Recyclers operate under strict laws that regulate what they can legally take in, and in some cases impose a waiting period on when they can pay customers for scrap.

Authorities are launching a new push to rein in the problem. Starting Monday, the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department will assign a detective full time to deal with the metal-theft epidemic, and within a month it plans to offer a program for recycling centers to upload records of their purchases daily to sheriff's officials.

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