BOISE – A new law is taking effect July 1 to try and help law enforcement stop thieves in their tracks.
Updates to the 2009 law will target thieves who steal copper wire and construction tools, but law enforcement will need the help of companies that give money for recycled goods.
At Nampa’s Pacific Steel and Recycling, Manager Mike Cataldo said companies like his will have to ask patrons for more information.
“It’s the aluminum, the brass, the copper, the stainless,” he said.
The updates require companies that buy certain types of metal from the public to photograph the sellers, their vehicle, their license plate and the material being purchased.
“This way we have a good trail for law enforcement,” Cataldo said. “And if we did do business with them we have a record of that.
Pacific Steel and Recycling is already compliant with the new law, but Cataldo said for some of the other smaller recyclers adding new technology could be difficult.
“There are smaller recyclers that may not be able to absorb a cost of an elaborate system like I have,” Cataldo said.
The trend to steal copper wire is not a new concept for thieves, and they have been doing it for years and getting away with the crime.
Officials with Idaho Power said the cost to customers from the theft of copper wire ranges in the tens of thousands of dollars every year. Not only is it a felony crime, but also it’s not safe. Thieves who target utilities that have copper wire also risk getting electrocuted by the nearby electrical system.
However, with the economy bouncing back and the housing industry once again booming, local law enforcement are also concerned with an increase in construction thefts.
“That lull in the housing market, I think has slowed it down a little bit, but knowing that that is coming back up we expect people to try and start attempting the thefts again and so we want to prevent it if we can,” said Sergeant Pat Schneider with the Ada County Sheriff’s Office.
Schneider asks residents to be on the lookout for strange activity in their neighborhood, especially after hours.
“People can get away with things if they have a few extra minutes,” said Schneider. “Prevention is the cure.”
For Cataldo, that is a concern as well because his business depends on it.
“If you have a lot of construction going on around town we know, those are our customers,” Cataldo said. “We get a lot of their business and we don’t want to buy anything that is being stolen off of their work sites.”
With this new law going into effect on July 1, Cataldo believes that is less likely to happen, but Schneider says residents need to be on the lookout for theft as well.
“Anything that we can do to help out law enforcement and do a better job and try to combat theft I am all for it,” Schneider said.