Kansas City thwarts secondary metal thefts

Posted June 18, 2013 at 11:00 pm

By LESLIE COLLINS
Northeast News
June 19, 2013

Kansas City is thwarting secondary metal thefts, thanks to continued cooperation from secondary metal recyclers and recent amendments to the city’s secondary metal recycler ordinance.

During a June 13 city Public Safety and Emergency Services meeting, Regulated Industries shared several success stories.

Regulated Industries General Manager Jim Ready said the secondary metal recycling industry is “going above and beyond their duty” to recover stolen property. Part of the success has resulted from quarterly meetings between Regulated Industries, the Kansas City Police Department and the area secondary metal recyclers, where the group discusses issues affecting secondary metal recycling and ways to combat metal thefts. During one meeting, a secondary metal recycler suggested that KCPD notify the recyclers of stolen property as soon as the department is aware of the theft, which would allow the secondary metal recyclers to be on the look out for the stolen items. As a result of that suggestion, KCPD now emails Regulated Industries about metal thefts, along with pictures of the stolen property, and Regulated Industries then forwards the emails to area secondary metal recyclers. The email chain has resulted in at least two success stories where stolen property was reunited with the owner, Ready said.

Both Nova Green Recycling and 12th Street Recycling aided KCPD in recovering stolen property in two separate incidents.

“When secondary metal recyclers are aware of the issues, they’re the best ones to stop the issues from happening and they can stop those items from being stolen,” Ready said.

When one individual tried to sell structural pipe on May 29, it raised suspicion among 12th Street Recycling employees, who knew about a recent theft of structural pipe. Employees stalled the individual and contacted KCPD along with the possible owner of the stolen property. The owner positively identified the stolen property and KCPD moved forward with its investigation, Ready said.

“It’s gratifying,” 12th Street Recycling Office Manager Heather Hobbs said of recovering stolen property. “We don’t want to see the community being taken advantage of from these thieves. Whatever we can do to slow it down – because it’s never going to stop – we can play a part and bring these thieves to justice.”

In addition to looking out for stolen property and adhering to city ordinances, 12th Street Recycling made changes of its own.

“We don’t even buy catalytic converters. We stopped buying them – we won’t even quote them (as a result of the number of catalytic converter thefts),” said Bill Richardson, one of the owners of 12th Street Recycling.

12th Street Recycling also stopped purchasing cars as a result of thefts, he said.

“If something comes in and doesn’t look right, we ask questions,” Richardson said. “We’re just trying to do the right thing.”

Both Richardson and Hobbs said they hope similar ordinances will be passed in surrounding communities to further combat thefts. City Council member John Sharp said legislation is pending on the state level to combat secondary metal thefts and that Lee’s Summitt and Wyandotte County recently passed ordinances similar to Kansas City’s.

“We’re not where we want to be,” Sharp said, “but we’re certainly heading in the right direction.”