Fighting Metals Thefts in Memphis

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(Memphis) It’s a problem that costs people thousands of dollars, and usually the most innocent fall victim.

Some churches and business are being wiped out by metal thieves who trash thousands of dollars in mechanics for a few hundred dollars in scrap metal.

Calvary Chapel doesn’t have insurance and fell victim to the crime for the second time in two weeks.

First, their church was ransacked then thieves came back and stole their air conditioning units for the metal inside.

“You realize that even a church is not sacred anymore. That someone would want to come steal from us. Even two times within the last couple of weeks,” said Pastor Phillip Ferrell.

Five years ago, the Memphis City Council created an ordinance to crack down on metals theft.

Two years ago, council made that ordinance even stronger.

“The ordinance requires the scrap metal dealer to write down the name and telephone number of the person who brings in the property. The scrap yards can’t pay cash for anything that comes from an A/C unit and that’s how we can track these,” said Councilman Jim Strickland.

Strickland said scrap yards in Shelby County are abiding by the laws and have to undergo random checks by Memphis Police.

But the problem is criminals are going out-of-town to sell the stolen metal.

“We need to coordinate with the counties surrounding Memphis and Shelby County, because a thief who takes scrap metal in Memphis can easily cross state lines and go to Mississippi, Arkansas, or outside Shelby County,” said Strickland.

Strickland said the city council has done about all it can do on the enforcement end.

He says surrounding counties has similar ordinances, but they aren’t uniform or implemented consistently.

Strickland claims Memphis PD is increasing coordination efforts with surrounding departments to cut down on the crimes.

Churches and business are urged to put locked cages around their air condition units and also mark any meal or copper piping so you can identify it later if it’s stolen.

It’s important to mark your metal because Memphis Scrap dealers hold it for a period of time after they buy it.

If yours has been stolen you can go check and see if your marked metal is at the scrap yard.