Scrap Metal Thefts on the Rise
You see them in parks, but imagine an 8 foot aluminum park bench hanging from the back of a pickup truck.
“Yesterday morning one of our traffic officers was working traffic here on Hawthorne Road," says Alachua County Sheriff's Office spokesman Art Forgey, "when he observed a pickup go past him that was speeding as well as had some bleachers sticking out about 8 foot out the back of the truck with no red flag.”
And that was the red flag for deputies. A youth park in Hawthorne had reported some aluminum park benches missing just two days earlier. Turns out investigators say 22 year old Michael Beall had stolen the metal, broken it down, and sold part of it to a recycle center in Gainesville. Crimes like this are becoming more even common in Alachua County because it is so easy to remove the bolts from a piece of metal, take it into a recycling shop, and then trade it for money.
“Due to the price of scrap metal," Forgey says, "we see a lot of air conditioners gutted at foreclosed houses, cell towers having their copper stripped from them and now the aluminum in a bench.”
Beall told the officer he was unemployed and just wanted some extra cash. In a tough economy, police say more people are turning to any source of cash they can find, even if it means picking it apart from city property.
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