Crackdown on Stolen Metals

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With the price of copper, for example, at over three dollars a pound right now, local authorities say it's prime time for metal thefts. But making another strike at a scrap yard may not pay off. Aluminum cans pour out of a processing machine at Groeling Salvage in Freeport. Thousands of cans are dropped off there every day. But so are some other loads that are a little more eye-catching and suspicious. "We had one guy coming in with a roll of aluminum wire, still on a spool. Well you know you can't buy that. You know that was stolen," said Ken Groeling. Stolen items are popping up more often right now at metal salvage yards across the stateline, dropped off by thieves, hoping to make a dime. "It's been more of a problem as the prices have gone up. You used to see it every so often. The prices go up and you see more and more of it," Groeling said. But getting away with a stolen goods transaction isn't a sure bet nowadays. At Groeling, they may give you money for the item since the company can't prove it was stolen on the spot. But once you leave, they'll immediately get your license plate number and call the cops. "We've seen a huge increase in the number of these thefts from vacant residences. Typically they're targeted for these kinds of thefts," said Freeport Deputy Chief Bob Smith. He says copper wires from air conditioning units turn up stolen. If these or other suspicious pieces turn up at any of the Behr recycling plants in the Stateline, workers will take a driver's license number...Sometimes they stall customers and call the cops right away. So you're warned now....and you better make sure that junk car is not stolen. Folks over at Behr wouldn't speak to us on camera. But they added that the police come to their plants probably two to three times a week. The city of Rockford has a law in place for scrap yards to "I-D" anyone with suspicious loads. There is no rule on the books yet in Freeport. Deputy Chief Smith says he doens't feel an ordinance would actually curtail any crimes.