Metal theft legislation that went into effect in Georgia last year has drastically reduced such crimes, which have plagued the Augusta area for at least the past five years.
A task force on metal thefts was developed in 2008 when law enforcement saw a crime spike after a jump in metal prices. The task force fell apart in 2010, but was revived in 2011 when prices and the number of metal thefts started to rise again.
Richmond County, which has five recycling centers and two auto salvage yards within a small area, was especially affected by the increase in prices. The yards serve a 75-mile radius, with the next comparable locations being in Savannah, Athens, Atlanta and Columbia.
Investigator Kendall Brown was reinstated as coordinator of the CSRA Metal Theft Task Force, which includes 65 agencies, and is the only full-time metal theft investigator in the state.
On July 1, 2012, House Bill 872 went into effect with the goal of further reducing the number of incidents.
Q: What is the current state of metal thefts in Richmond County?
A: For the past five years, Augusta-Richmond County has been very proactive and successful in reducing metal thefts. In fact, Augusta-Richmond County has the best metal theft solvent rate in the state of Georgia and has been the leader in assisting other areas around Georgia in their metal theft reduction.
Q: Can you say how Richmond County compares with other areas in Georgia?
A: As the coordinator of the CSRA Metal Theft Task Force, I am that bridge between recycler and law enforcement. My everyday dealings with metal theft-related incidents, arrest and case law over the past six years has given me the expertise in teaching/educating law enforcement agencies and citizens statewide in reducing metal theft in their areas/cities.
Q: Has Georgia’s metal theft law had any effect on the metal theft cases that Richmond County makes?
A: The changes in the metal theft law have made a huge impact in reducing metal thefts and made it easier to identify, apprehend and prosecute metal thieves. The added record-keeping requirements (copies of IDs, photographs of the seller and ... photographs of purchased metal), prohibited metal sales (burnt copper, burial objects, A/C coils), just to name a few, are the reason that metal thefts are on the decline in Georgia.
Q: What changes need to be made to further cut the number of metal theft cases?
A: Reporting metal thefts is the first step. Secondly, citizens need to secure the metals on their property/business. Do not make it easy for a metal thief. Lastly, mark your metal. It makes it easier to identify your metal when it shows up at the recycling centers.
Q: How can I protect myself from being a victim of metal theft?
A: A copy of the CSRA Metal Theft Task Force Compliance Guide has tips and techniques to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of metal theft. In addition to his guide, pictures and other crime prevention techniques can be found on the CSRA Metal Theft Task Force Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CSRAMTTF.
You can also contact Investigator Kendall Brown at (706) 821-1440 or firstname.lastname@example.org.