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Scrap Metal Theft Prevention

Posted on 09 October 2015

For those of you who recall the famous anti-smoking ad where a waitress claimed that she had contracted lung cancer despite the fact that she “never smoked a day in her life,” then you’re familiar with Heather Crowe. Ms. Crowe’s story reached national exposure during the 2002 Canadian anti-smoking campaign, shedding light on the dangers of secondhand smoke in the workplace. Her story was touching and very effective; Ontario soon introduced anti-smoking legislation that prohibited smoking in restaurants and other similar public venues, and other provinces followed suit. Sadly, in 2006 Ms. Crowe passed away due to lung cancer, and in 2009, a commemorative bronze plaque was installed in a small park off of Island Park Drive in Ottawa, Ontario. Perhaps even more sadly, the plaque was stolen on September 16th, 2015. The reason? Scrap metal thieves.

Scrap metal theft is a very common crime. Hydro One estimates that scrap metal theft from power lines and other associated energy products costs them $40 million per year. It has also caused at least 8 deaths. Scrap metal theft is a serious crime that needs attention with respect to prevention, and here is how you can avoid being a victim of scrap metal theft.

First, be aware that most petty theft like scrap metal theft is that of opportunity. Most scrap metal thieves are not as resourceful or as cunning as the cat burglars you may see on TV, so the best prevention for scrap metal theft is to eliminate any easy opportunity for it. This means that you should never leave any scrap metal deemed valuable out in the open where would-be thieves who are passing by can make note of the presence of scrap metal to return for it later. This is the situation that almost cost an Ottawa church their bell; thieves walked by the bell sitting on the church lawn as a result of a steeple renovation and returned later that evening to steal it.

Second, post cautionary signs on your property if you operate a larger scale scrap metal business. A few “no trespassing” or “guard dog on duty” signs can be more than enough to ward off thieves. Even if you don’t actually have a dog or a functional security system, no thief wants to take that chance to find out.

Finally, input detailed inventory reports. Thieves may only take a few items in a string of thefts, and if your scrap metal collection is large enough, they may only grab a few items that you may not notice until it’s too late. By keeping a detailed inventory report, you can pinpoint what went missing and contact your local scrap metal recyclers to be on the lookout for those very items. It also pays to develop a great working relationship with a reputable scrap metal recycler like Tal Metal Inc. so they can act diligently in preventing thieves from selling your stolen scrap metal.

Scrap metal theft is a crime that affects everyone; much of the theft comes from public institutions like municipal governments or energy providers, and paying for this stolen merchandise comes out of our pocket as taxpayers. Always take the necessary precautions if you’re collecting scrap metal, and never hesitate to report scrap metal theft if you witness it.

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