Growing metal theft incidents

Published 10:23 pm Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Those driving down Godwin Boulevard recently might have seen a red and blue sign with a cryptic message condemning the actions of a “low life.”

The Suffolk News-Herald was curious enough to take a second look, and we learned the sad story of metal that had been collected for a Cub Scout project being plundered.

Maurice Dennis, the sign’s creator, told a News-Herald reporter: “I was rather disgusted and didn’t know what to do, so I had a sign made and put it up there.”


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It’s a sad state of affairs when a young Suffolkian, a Cub Scout no less, is victimized by an anonymous thief or thieves. Whether the thief knew he was stealing pieces from a youth’s project or if he, she or they bothered to think about whom they were harming is up in the air. What is true is that scrap metal theft is a growing reality in Suffolk and has been affecting local businesses and individuals.

A quick search of the News-Herald archives reveals a few examples of scrap metal theft, usually from items like air conditioning units and car parts, in the last year.

In October 2011, Clark’s Body Shop discovered five catalytic converters were missing. Catalytic converters are popular items for thieves, because they contain precious metals, which can include platinum, palladium and rhodium.

In January of this year, a series of air conditioning units were stolen over two weeks.

Thefts of scrap metal are common in and around Suffolk, city spokeswoman Diana Klink wrote in an email.

“Individuals steal scrap metal, copper and aluminum and sell the items to scrap yards,” she wrote.

Generally, cases are only prosecuted when stolen items are identified before being crushed at a scrap yard, but Dennis holds out hope that the police will “track the lowlife down.”

The effect the economy has had on the community has been seen in many ways. But perhaps the story of a Cub Scout’s efforts being waylaid by theft will serve to remind people that actions have consequences. Even if the economy has made you desperate, nothing justifies stealing, especially when your actions harm another.