Augusta trying to prevent metal thefts

Augusta looks to Aiken County for inspiration

  • Follow Metro

Metal thefts are climbing again in Richmond County, and investigators are looking at a neighboring county for ideas on how to curb the crimes.

"I see (metal thefts) much more regular, on a daily basis now, so it's obvious that it's creeping back up," said Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Tony Walden. "I want to stay ahead of the curve on this one."

Aiken County started enforcing a South Carolina law March 1 to combat the problem.

According to the law, anyone hauling more than 25 pounds of nonferrous metals is required to have a permit.

Nonferrous metals are those that do not contain a significant amount of iron or steel, such as copper and aluminum.

"Every year, this time of year, it seems that the number of metal thefts seem to be on the uprise," said Aiken County sheriff's Capt. Troy Elwell. "It's one of those things that we looked at and considered and finally felt that it was necessary for us to put into effect."

The law had been on the South Carolina books for years, but unless the county has the permits to issue, it couldn't be enforced.

Since March 1, the county has had more than 100 applicants for free permits.

"Even though it's been somewhat of an inconvenience to our citizens, we believe (the new law) has helped," Elwell said.

Aiken County has issued citations for hauling metals without a permit, but no arrests have been made.

"We do believe it has deterred thefts in the county," Elwell said. "You just don't see the amount of vehicles hauling metal that you used to through the county on a daily basis."

Aiken County mainly tracks air conditioner thefts. Between Jan. 1 and March 1 of last year, about 20 units had been stolen. Since then, there has been only one.

"I'd like to see something like that over here," Walden said.

Richmond County had tried to curb the number of thefts by changing the statute on how recycling businesses operate, but a state law prevents it from doing so.

Adopting a law similar to the one in South Carolina might be a different story, Walden said.

Recycling businesses are required to keep permanent records of every item brought in, in addition to copies of identification and a description and tag number of the vehicle driven by the person dropping the items off. Investigators have found that many businesses don't comply, however, making investigations difficult.

"They're literally hitting everything," Walden said of the rise in metal thefts.

Investigators were recently sent to south Augusta, where guy wires had been cut.

Richmond County did not have records on the number of metal thefts.

S. Carolina law

Permits are required for anyone wishing to transport 25 pounds or more of nonferrous metals in South Carolina.

Free permits, valid for 48 hours, are issued at the sheriff's office. Those applying must provide proof of ownership and a copy of their driver's license.

First offenders are subject to a $200 fine and up to 30 days in jail. After a second offense, a person is subject to a $500 fine and a year in jail. After a third offense, a person is subject to a $1,000 fine and up to three years behind bars.

State law 16-17-685 can be viewed at www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t16c017.htm.

Comments (4) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
copperhead
1035
Points
copperhead 04/16/11 - 01:53 am
0
0
I have some high velocity

I have some high velocity lead that i will GIVE them if they try to steal from me!

seenitB4
120018
Points
seenitB4 04/16/11 - 09:20 am
0
0
Some have had aircond. units

Some have had aircond. units taken 2-3times....yeh ENFORCE this.

deportem
94
Points
deportem 04/16/11 - 09:32 am
0
0
Put in proximity detectors

Put in proximity detectors and paintball claymore mines. The next time use real claymores. Problem solved!

Casting_Fool
1248
Points
Casting_Fool 04/16/11 - 01:02 pm
0
0
"paintball claymore mines"

"paintball claymore mines" What a picture that brings up in one's mind! Great idea, deportem. 700 paintball hits in under .5 seconds, should discourage the most industrious metal thief. :O)

Back to Top
loading...
Top headlines

Health insurance costs spike

ATLANTA -- Many Georgians could face double-digit increases in their health insurance premiums next year, based on initial rates sought by insurers.
Search Augusta jobs