Environmental Protection

Scrap Recycler Invests in Security System to Halt Thieves

Soaring copper prices have made metal a prime target of some thieves. The issue has created a perplexing problem for recyclers like AAEQ Manufacturers and Recyclers in North Las Vegas, who are committed to weeding out legitimate sellers from criminals that indiscriminately steal materials -- ranging from copper wiring and plumbing from residences and commercial buildings to basic infrastructure such as manhole covers and sewer grates.

In light of a police raid on Aug. 13 at a large-scale Las Vegas area recycling operation, AAEQ President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Stolberg says his company remains committed to working with law enforcement officials to help solve this community-wide problem.

AAEQ recently invested in a new, $100,000 point-of-purchase system called Scrap Dragon that videotapes transactions, takes scanned fingerprints, and gives separate IDs to each scrap seller. After a completed transaction, sellers receive a coupon that can be redeemed at an on-premise ATM, which also captures their image. The program is scheduled to be operational in September.

"Our goal is to help law enforcement prosecute people that are stealing metal and then trying to sell it as recyclable scrap," said Stolberg.

Las Vegas-area officials are considering legislation to make it more difficult for scrap metal buyers and sellers to profit from the thievery. The plan is to loosely model Nevada's scrap-buying regulations after strict laws enacted in Arizona last year.

AAEQ is a member of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc.

Stolberg said he is in favor of good regulations, but some of the ideas being tossed around by Las Vegas officials would virtually put legitimate recyclers like AAEQ out of business.

"We understand the frustration of law enforcement people due to this growing problem," said Stolberg. "We want to work with them but we don't want to see legislation that discourages legitimate recycling efforts."

Stolberg encourages legislators and law enforcement officials to bring recyclers to the table when proposing legislation so they have a voice in the process. He also encourages them to look at work done by ISRI that tries to balance the interests of all parties.

ISRI has developed "Recommended Practices and Procedures for Minimizing the Risks of Purchasing Stolen Scrap Materials," that recyclers can employ at their facilities to minimize the risk of unintentionally purchasing stolen materials. AAEQ has adopted these guidelines in its operations.

For more information on the scrap recycling industry's efforts to combat materials theft, visit www.isri.org/theft.

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