Copper Thieves Still Striking
By: CJ Cassidy
Imagine sweating in sweltering conditions on a hot summer day, just because crooks cut the wires to your AC.
Investigators in southeast Missouri say it happens so often they're putting a task force together to cut down on metal thefts.
Meanwhile, a little known Missouri law from 1965 says scrap metal dealers can do their part to help police.
Many may not realize they are expected to keep information and license numbers of people who sell copper to them. In fact, police say not doing so, could get them in trouble.
Victims say they hope that changes, soon.
"It makes me very angry very mad," John Lance said as he walked around his farm inspecting the damage.
You would be too, if thieves shut off your power by cutting and stealing your electric copper wires.
Lance is waiting to get his grain bins going again. Meanwhile, he's out $7,000.
"They sleep all day, steal all night," Lance said.
Investigators said most metal thieves don't seem to have much of a conscience.
Someone ripped off several air conditioning units from a Wayne County church.
They all end up in scrap metal yards for dealers to recycle.
"In the case of copper wire or copper tubing, any kind of scrap metal once it's insulations burned off. One batch looks like another," said Bill Sides with Sides Recycling in Cape Girardeau.
He's not fond of taking information down from customers.
"We run a lot of people through here in the day. It's gonna slow down the process, not be as efficient we we'd like it to be, if we have to do it we do it," he said.
"It doesn't have to be an adversarial relationship," said Poplar Bluff Asst. Chief of Police Jeff Roland.
Officers there often work with Rick McCoy, a dealer, to catch crooks in action.
McCoy's surveillance system shows police who to look for.
Names, numbers and IDs help track down the bad guys. It's the kind of system farmers like John Lance hope helps investigators strike while the iron's hot.
Police say spray painting any wires or air conditioning units a unique color might help locate them easier if someone steals them.