Tips to Prevent Metals Theft

Metals theft poses a danger to communities across the country. In recognition of this year’s National Crime Prevention Month (October), Scrapyard Pro offers the following tips for preventing metals theft:

  • To prevent the removal and stripping of air conditioning units of their metal coils, property owners may enclose their unit in a wire cage affixed to the mounting pad.
  • Property owners can also prevent the theft of AC units by padlocking their power disconnect box with a quality disc type padlock. This type of lock makes it difficult, if not impossible to cut the lock quickly with bolt cutters. Home improvement stores offer many brands of these locks for under $20.
  • A commercially available alarm product that monitors refrigerant pressure, line and load voltage is also available to address the theft of AC units.
  • To prevent theft of plumbing pipes and wiring, ensure that all crawl space openings are secured with tamper resistant screws.
  • To protect vacant houses, keep the electric current on, leave certain lights on and make law enforcement officials aware of the building’s status.
  • Locations that have metals stored outside in or out of fenced lots should move the items to storage inside a secured structure.
  • Local law enforcement may assist in patterned attacks through placement of mobile hidden surveillance cameras when analysis of data indicates a likely crime, and permission of property owners is obtained. Even inexpensive trail cams may be used for this purpose if cost is an issue.
  • A new technology that is being employed to allow for identification of stolen wiring is the application of specific identifying markings on wiring insulation, laser etched wiring, and markings of other kinds. Identification is essential in building stronger cases and prosecution.
  • Metals theft is not a victimless crime. It has caused property damage, injury, and even death. Recyclers work closely with law enforcement to prevent this serious crime and to catch thieves.

Scrapyard Pro is a member of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), the Voice of the Recycling Industry™. ISRI developed and operates, a free web-based alert system that connects law enforcement communities and scrap yard operators in the investigation and prevention of materials theft.

Law enforcement officials can post information about stolen scrap materials or materials that have been stolen by thieves that could be sold for scrap. The reports are turned into alerts that are then broadcast over the Internet to all member scrap yards within a 200 mile radius. has contributed to the recovery of $1.6 million of property by distributing 15,456 alerts among 18,361 active users since 2009.

ISRI also offers law enforcement training involving education on recycling facility operations, state laws, and metals theft identification. Go to for additional information from ISRI, including tools for law enforcement, prosecutors and state legislators.

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