Attorneys general discuss copper theft

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Attorneys general from three states as well as representatives of a fourth met Monday for a roundtable discussion on the growing concern of copper theft.

Arkansas’ Dustin McDaniel, Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, and representatives from the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office attended the meeting in Memphis.

“Thieves who strip copper from irrigation systems are causing devastating property damage that can be crippling to our farmers,” said Arkansas’ Dustin McDaniel. “It is critical that the states in our region strategize collaboratively to prevent this crime.”

Intergovernmental cooperation is important, McDaniel explained, because thieves often cross county and state lines to sell stolen metal.

Arkansas has had enormous success tracking scrap metal thieves using a statewide electronic reporting system created by LeadsOnline called the Metal Theft Investigations System. The system allows law enforcement and metal recyclers to share information and track suspicious scrap metal sales.

“LeadsOnline allows investigators to access information about thousands of transactions in a matter of minutes,” McDaniel said. “The Metal Theft Investigations System is an incredible tool for law enforcement.”

Arkansas investigators ran 9,728 scrap metal searches using the system during the first quarter of 2014 alone. The state has over 350 law enforcement agencies using the system and 127 scrap metal recyclers reporting their transactions.

Tennessee is also grappling with copper theft.

“In Tennessee, scrap metal dealers register with and are regulated by the Department of Commerce and Insurance,” said Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper. “We continue to be concerned about the theft and sale of scrap metal and are happy to share information and ideas with authorities in neighboring states to curb this nationwide problem.”

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