Scraponomics Episode 99: Metal Theft Presentation (Cont.) - The Benefits of a Nationwide Reporting System

Sep 24, 2015, 01:19 PM

“Technology is best when it brings people together.” — Matt Mullenweg, Founder of Wordpress

Last week, we talked about how, at least in Friedland’s experience, the $25 payment restriction in Michigan’s current metal theft law adds more problems to the mix without any sign of helping reduce metal theft. This week, let’s discuss something we offered that wasn’t adopted; a nationwide reporting system.

Let’s use a similar industry as an example; the pawn industry. Pawn shops in Michigan and elsewhere are required to report certain items to a reporting system that law enforcement can use when searching for stolen goods, like jewelry and instruments. Law enforcement has found this method extremely helpful in quickly tracking down stolen material.

The scrap industry is slightly different in that our terminology for commodities is a little weird and material tends to be lumped together, rather than seeing brand names for material as products. Still, this method has the potential to be much more helpful than mailing checks.

For example, let’s say John Doe likes to steal air conditioning units. In an effort to not draw attention, his strategy might be to take one AC unit to one scrap facility one day, then another AC unit to another facility the next day, and then a third AC unit to another facility the day after that. A report system would be able to help us track trends like this and flag them, which would help law enforcement know who to look for. Similarly, if someone steals a bunch of catalytic converters in Michigan and all of a sudden a large number of them are sold in Indiana, we could find which people are stealing material and taking it out of state.

With the level of technology we have available today, it would be a shame to not utilize it. Next week, let’s discuss another issue, which is the language barrier between English and Scraponese.

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