Recycling Yards Cracking Down On Copper Wire Thieves

Two Pascagoula men are accused of stealing thousands of pounds of copper. Michael Earl Bradley and Kenyan Charon, both 32, are accused of taking copper wire from ABC Recycling in Moss Point.

The men allegedly stole three thousand pounds. The stolen copper is valued $7,500. Now owners at ABC Recycling are making it their business to stop copper thefts.

"We've been getting camera and security systems installed here and we are getting some more in here to be able to catch folks like that," says Jeff McDonald, yard manager at ABC Recycling.

Thieves are after copper wire. McDonald says this isn't the first time thieves have taken the metal from the yard.  But thanks to some teamwork from other recycling plants and local law enforcement, it may be the last.

"Where the sheriff department and local scarp yards are cooperating together, it's putting a halt on some of it," says McDonald.

Homeowners may wonder how copper wire thefts effect them. Law enforcement officers say copper is used to build homes, especially when installing plumbing.

"As soon as the plumber comes in and installs the copper pipes, people go in there and cut it right out," says Lieutenant Ken McClennic with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.

McClennic says since Hurricane Katrina, there has been a rise in copper thefts. However, while household copper may be difficult to track, most copper wire can be traced.

"Wiring that goes on a navy ship or something, it's very distinctive copper wiring. Where an employee that works with ABC Recycling that knows what's coming in everyday, he can look and say, 'I know that came from a contract that someone has to bring it here,'" says McClennic.

And that is what's helping nab copper thieves.

Lieutenant McClennic says any amount of stolen copper worth more than $500 is considered felony grand larceny and thieves may face even more charges if they go on private property.