Elicia Dover with our content partner, KATV Ch. 7 News, reports:
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced a new initiative from her office Thursday to combat copper theft.
“For far too long, too many scrapyards have not been following the law and thus, allowing criminals to get away with metal theft,” said Attorney General Rutledge.
Sworn officers in the Special Investigations Division at the Attorney General’s Office will conduct trainings with local law enforcement to use a free online service, LeadsOnline, to target metal theft.
The weeklong trainings in late July will be held in Jonesboro, Fort Smith, Texarkana, Mountain Home, El Dorado, Monticello, Fayetteville, West Memphis and Little Rock.
Then in August, agents will begin checking to see if scrap metal places are in compliance with the law.
“We’ll start doing controlled buys in August. If they see a scrap metal dealer is not following the law, they will issue them a warning. Following that warning, they can issue them warnings upwards of $1,000 per violation,” Rutledge said.
AT&T Arkansas Director of External Affairs Ronald Dedman said the company loses a lot of money each year on copper thefts.
“This year we’ve had 65 copper thefts already and that’s cost AT&T about $650,000. Last year we had 130 copper thefts and that cost AT&T over $1.5 million dollars,” Dedman said.
Thieves melt the plastic coating and strip wires. The thefts not only affect companies like AT&T, but also customer’s phone calls.
“They have started to attack our cell and microwave sites which contain copper components. And go in there and steal the copper there, so it affects cell phone users as well,” said Dedman.
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