Sims Metal Management is committed to preventing metal theft. In addition to its commitment to comply with applicable local and state ordinances, the company--at great time and expense--trains employees to identify stolen material and determine who should or should not be in possession of certain scrap materials, such as recyclable materials, including rail road material, utility and telecommunication material, sewer grates, beer kegs and more. If one of our scale operators has a concern about materials that may be stolen, or a person who is acting suspiciously regarding potentially stolen materials, it is our policy to contact the authority when feasible.
The Company puts a large emphasis on working with law enforcement, utilities and other aﬀected industries to find cooperative solutions to the problem. We have worked with lawmakers on legislation, pushing for penalties that are more stringent for non-compliant recyclers. The prevention of these crimes will require the cooperation of recyclers, local and state officials, law enforcement, and affected industries.
In our experience, a uniform statewide solution is essential to preventing metal theft. A “patchwork quilt” of ordinances only encourages criminals to take stolen materials further away from the source, increasing the burden upon law enforcement.
This is not your grandfather’s scrap yard or junkyard. Today’s modern recycling facility uses advanced technology to recover even small amounts of recyclable metals—every day we make a positive impact on the environment. Though we are advanced, we have space limitations. With hundreds of transactions each day, the space limitations would make any type of “Tag & Hold” provision impossible to implement.
Be Vigilant: It is important for both members of the public and law enforcement to be suspicious of people loitering or tampering with metal theft targets. These targets include: construction sites, street lighting, pumps and farm equipment, manholes, sewer grates and statues. Recyclers are often the victims of metal theft, because they serve as a veritable “gold mine” of recycled materials for thieves. The debate seems to be entirely focused on the prosecution of these crimes instead of the prevention. PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN PROSECUTION. The cost of the damage inflicted during a crime is usually much higher than the cost of the stolen material.
Work Together: As many in law enforcement and other agencies can attest, real results can only be achieved through cooperation between recyclers and affected parties. If you are a victim of metal theft, notify local recyclers, as quickly as possible. Sims Metal Management encourages businesses, organizations and other constituencies to educate our organization and employees on the types of materials that have been or might be stolen. We have conducted such meetings with local trade and business organizations, farm bureaus, law enforcement, and utilities.
Mark Materials: If recyclers can recognize marked material, we are more likely to identify it as stolen. The use of micro dots, identifiable wire and other markings can alert a recycler to help recover stolen material. Only certain people should have certain types of metal materials.
ISRI Theft Alerts: Our industry association, ISRI, has set up a Theft Alert System to notify recyclers as soon as the theft occurs. The system sends a description and photos of the material to regional, state, and national recyclers. This is a powerful tool for law enforcement and victims of metal theft and has resulted in many arrests. Please visit www.isri.org/theft for more information and to report a theft.
Why “Tag & Hold” Ordinances Do Not Work: Ordinances including “Tag & Hold” provisions do not work. First, “Tag & Hold” laws and ordinances punish responsible recyclers by literally putting them out of business. The space requirements and other logistics of “Tag & Hold” are impossible for even the most advanced recycling facility to accommodate. Large warehouses would be required to store and inventory the thousands of tons of material that recyclers purchase each day.
Second, RECYCLING IS A COMMODITY BUSINESS. Recyclers buy material at a specified price based on that day’s market. The recycler relies on being able to turn around as quickly as possible and sell that material to a manufacturer or other type of business for further processing. Holding the material for unspecified time periods would undermine the economics of the recycling business.
Third, there are environmental implications in making recycling more difficult to implement. Metal is one of the most recyclable materials produced. The environmental consequences of shifting these materials to landfills will require the use of virgin materials at the expense of the environment, increasing air, water and other forms of pollution.
These are just three of the many reasons “Tag & Hold” ordinances fail to stop metal theft and instead punish the honest recycler.