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Thieves Risk Their Lives to Steal Metal

Angela Monroe

Thieves Risk Their Lives to Steal Metal

CREATED Dec. 14, 2011

It appears metal thefts are on the rise here in the valley, some thieves even risking their lives to steal.
Police say one man died when he tried to take copper wire, And then eight people were arrested Tuesday for stealing metal.

Three men are behind bars after police say they tried to steal aluminum from a vacant home in Desert Hot Springs.
"They get pennies to the dollar, for example I just called a local recycling center just a few minutes ago and they are buying aluminum for 37 cents a pound," said Deputy Angel Ramos with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.
Just pennies to the dollar for the stolen goods.  But the cost can be your life.
"Live wire such as electrical lines, its very dangerous even to tamper with them, not to mention to cut them, you can get electrocuted and ultimately die," said Deputy Ramos.
Police say it appears a man died in Palm Springs this weekend when he tried to steal copper from a transformer.
And the sheriff's department arrested two men for stolen agricultural equipment found in an east valley recycling center.
"Every day you hear about metal theft in the Coachella Valley, primarily its copper, but lately its been steel and aluminum, there's copper theft at almost every construction site," said Tom Gustafson, Home Depot Electrictrical Department Supervisor.
Andy Karstens used to work in construction, and says recycling centers now keep a close eye on what comes in their gates.
"They do ask for your driver's license at the recycling centers and they actually hold if its a certain amount of weight, they hold the cash three days until they feel police haven't had it reported it stolen, and then you can come back and get the cash," said Karstens.
Officers say metal thefts rise when prices increase.
"I actually think as the economy gets worse and worse people are going to get more and more desperate and they are going to be trying more and more stupid things to get money," said Karstens.
So is there anything you can do to protect your property?
"If there's a way to lock up anything you can lock up, get it locked up, but you have to be diligent and just watch, see something suspicious, report it," recommended Gustafson.
The sheriff's department also encourages you to call them if you see anything suspicious.