Madison police are warning recycling companies not to buy scrap from disreputable or unknown sources, trying to stem off increased thefts of metal which is costing the community hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Lt. Mark Brown, head of the Blue Net Burglary Task Force, said law enforcement agencies are taking steps to ensure compliance by recycling companies with an anti-theft state law, requiring the firms to take extra precautions when purchasing scrap from unknown sources.
The police department conducted a press conference Monday to announce the increased crackdown on scrap metal thieves and the increased vigilance of and hoped for cooperation by scrap dealers.
The efforts will include surveillance of scrap metal yards and spot checks of purchasing records, with companies not in compliance referred to the district attorney's office for review.
Dealers are required to maintain records on everything from seller identification, time and date of purchase, number and state of issuance of the license plates on the vehicle bringing the metal to the yard and a description of the items including weight and what the scrap looks like, if it's in bars, ingots, cable, rods, tubing, wire, etc.
The dealers also have to make their records available to law enforcement officers.
A letter sent to scrap metal dealers by the police department earlier in October listed nine individuals considered "very active" in the community selling stolen scrap metal, with the individuals convicted of crimes ranging from theft to possession of stolen property to burglary.
Those convicted, according to the police, included Darrell Sunderlage, Lonny Linberg, Jeremy Hyatt, Jeffery Bailey, Clinton Soule, Zachary Gentry, Edward Femrite, Bruce Wickline and Theresa Wickline.
"By following the new law and complying with our requests, metal dealers can greatly reduce our metal theft problem and keep out of harm's way," the letter said.