Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Over the last 12 months, the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Department has worked, on average, one metal theft every single day since last September. There have been a whopping 328 reported and only a handful of arrests.
Fast Lassie Recycling owner Ted Reed drove out to check on his salvage yard in southwest Sedgwick County just after noon one day in August.
"There was a guy out there loading up aluminum,” Reed says. “Locked the gate and called the sheriff's department."
The sheriff arrested Dale Dalbom.
"It's taking food out our family’s mouth and the company profits," Reed says.
Metal theft spiked years ago when prices jumped and the economy tanked.
"These are cases that are very difficult to solve,” says Capt. Greg Pollock, Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Department. “We have limited leads and they're very dispersed throughout the county."
He says thieves are brazen – taking a chainsaw 3 different times to power poles in the county, cutting them down and then stripping the copper from inside.
Capt. Pollock has stacks of reports, metal stolen from farm tractors and trucks, and $25,000 worth of metal stolen from a construction company last month.
“They are little cells of people that are involved,” says Pollock. “This is not one person – takes a couple of people at least in most of these cases."
Fast Lassie Recycling has increased security, but over the years has lost thousands of dollard in metal to thieves – thieves that are causing more damage than it’s worth.
"Try to sell the load, make paychecks,” says Fast Lassie manager Roger Fredrickson. “Costs us down the line and everybody else."
Sheriff's investigators say they are working with Butler and Sumner counties along with WPD, trying to solve these cases. But they say the scrap that is stolen is often taken across state lines and sold for cash, making arrests even more difficult.