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Copper Theft Crackdown

Council Bluffs Toughens Laws

September 25, 2007

Copper Theft Crackdown imageCouncil Bluffs has joined Omaha in an attempt to crack down on metal thefts.

The L & K Scrap Metals Yard takes in pounds of metal every day. Since June of last year, L and K and other Omaha scrap yards have been required by city law to take in information along with the metal.

L & K’s Keith Spangler says, “They take the cards now and make us take IDs and license plate numbers.”

Also on that card is a fingerprint, name and address. It’s an attempt to make it harder for thieves to sell stolen metal and easier to catch them when they do but the thefts continue.

The value of the metal targeted varies but thieves are still after it.

This weekend thieves stole four tons of copper wire from a Kiewit Construction lot. Also this month, nearly 5,000 feet of copper wire was stolen along Union Pacific tracks.

In August, a stolen copper gas line from an Onawa, Iowa, home led to an explosion, killing a man. The same month, 1,200 feet of copper wiring was stolen from an Omaha street-light project.

In July, a home for sale in Omaha lost its air conditioner, more than likely for its copper.

In May, a Habitat for Humanity house was a target: $50,000 worth of copper vanished.

These are just a few examples and reasons why Council Bluffs passed a new city law Monday night similar to Omaha’s, requiring scrap yards to take information from the sellers of most scrap metals.

Bluffs City Councilman Matt Walsh says, “We’ll make the thief think before they try to sell and hopefully we’ll take some of the profit out of stealing.”

An Omaha Police spokesperson couldn’t tell us if they’ve seen thefts of scrap metal like this drop because records are not separated by the type of theft.
WOWT.com comments on this story:

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of the station.

Posted by: Lori Location: Onawa
The man who died, Earl Thelander, was my stepfather of 25 years. Roxanne, I also was not concerned about copper or metal theft, until it took the life of my father. The metal theft headlines ARE important, and should be a priority, so Kudos to the authorities, and the newspapers, for keeping it in the headlines!!!

Posted by: Dean Location: Omaha
Roxanne please dont forget about the person in Iowa that died a couple weeks ago to an explosion due to copper theft, thereby a homicide. It could happen again unfortunatly. On another note, have the person cashing in on copper carry a plumbers license or electricians license and be able to list jobsite location and document on paper. Its a hassle but thats the idea.

Posted by: Roxanne Location: Omaha
Does any one see anything wrong with this picture? We have four (4) headlines for shootings and two (2) of them are homicides, our kids are dieing here and Omaha is concerned with copper theft??? Wake up authorities and prioritize.

Posted by: Jeremy Location: Omaha
I am suprised to see that the city has yet to enforce laws against the selling of metals. In lincoln you have to have a license to sell the metal which requires you to actually show a license or provide valid id and finger prints, why don’t we have something like this in place yet? I bet that will put a crimp on someones attempts to sell metal.

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