On this day in 1895, Mexican President Diaz was “prompted to promulgate a special law regarding better protection of railroad trains from the petty attacks, which they suffer, including stoning in country places where police protection is not always available. The same law decrees long terms of imprisonment in the case of the many small robberies committed in the theft of iron fittings and other articles from the roads and their equipment.”
Three Newport News (VA) Waterworks employees have been charged with larceny and other crimes for allegedly stealing copper pipes and brass fittings from city sites. Newport News now joins the esteemed ranks of Nuangola, Stamford, Houston, St. Clair Shores, and Topeka on the growing list of cities with employees/officials caught stealing metal. According to Channel 10 WAVY.com, the men are on administrative leave, and there may be more arrests to come.
On this day in 1899, the St. Bernard Coal Company in Kentucky offered a $50 reward (about $1,3000 today) for the conviction of thieves stealing brass, copper, and iron from the shops and machines of the company. The newspaper notice states:
“Of late many boys have been guilty of these thefts, even breaking into buildings to steal a few cents’ worth of material, evidently not thinking of the risks they incur of being sent to jail. The buyer of stolen goods is really worse than the thief and to these buyers is largely due the thefts of thoughtless boys. The evil has grown so large that the company has determined to stop it and will prosecute both the thief and the buyer.”

Coincidentally, this past Monday (7/18) The Daily Reporter (greenfieldreporter.com) announced Windstream's (KY) offer of a $10,000 reward for information on the recent theft of 200 feet of copper telephone cable, worth about $600 as scrap but putting over 400 people out of telephone service.
The Indianapolis Business Journal reports that the Marion County (Indianapolis) Prosecutor’s Office has dropped all criminal charges against OmniSource, Corp., stemming from a February 2009 raid "by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Indiana State Police, which collected evidence and seized about $300,000."

In October 2010, a grand jury returned a 16-page indictment against OmniSource. "The indictment detailed dozens of allegations, including charges OmniSource bought stolen cars, car parts, boats, gutters, wiring and other items as scrap metal prices climbed between June 2007 and May 2009." OmniSource has allowed law enforcement to keep the $300k that was seized "to help fund training programs."

MetalTheft.Net’s own Managing Editor, Kevin Whiteacre found himself caught up in the fiasco and is pleased to see it come to an end. After the raid, for reasons that remain unclear, Whiteacre lost all access to Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department data on metal theft that the Community Research Center, which he directs, was compiling and analyzing free of charge. He was then approached by attorneys on all sides, including a couple of class action lawyers, to serve as an expert witness. Refusing to take anyone’s side, he found himself on the outs with everyone.  

Meanwhile, Whiteacre's friend, student, research collaborator, and a leader in the fight against metal theft, IMPD Major David Allender was unjustly demoted to Captain presumably due to his association with OmniSource.

And that was just the beginning of a very strange saga. Tonight, Whiteacre will sit on his deck, enjoy a Moscow Mule in an icy cold copper mug, and let bygones be bygones. 

MetalTheft.Net apologizes for the venting and will resume objective coverage tomorrow.

On this day in 1906, thieves stole three coils of copper, worth about $108 (about $2,580 today) and averaging 200 pounds each, from the Postal Telegraph basement in San Francisco. "Five men were concerned in the looting and only the quick arrival of the police prevented the thieves from taking $4,000 [$95,8000 today] worth of wire that lay in the debris." The thieves "scented trouble" and drove away just before the police arrived.

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On this day in 1899, The Omaha Daily Bee ran a story on a copper thief with a tough name:

          "John Spqs was his name, and he did his best to pronounce it, reports the New York Herald, but without sufficient success to help United States Commissioner Morle, before whom he was arraigned the other day in Brooklyn on the charge of stealing copper from the navyyard.            
            'What is your name?' asked the commissioner.            
            The prisoner gave vent to a sound that seemed to be the commingling of the hiss of a punctured bicycle tire and the wheezing of a Florida alligator.             
            Mr. Morle and his clerk asked him again and again, but were unable to write it out or to write out any combination of letters which would even suggest the sound which the prisoner bore as a name. The court interpreter wrestled with it in vain.             
           'Spell it!' finally demanded Mr. Morle, and the prisoner did. 'S-p-q-s.'             
           'How did you get it?' asked the commissioner.            
           'What! The copper?' asked the prisoner.            
           'No; the S-p-q-s,' said the commissioner.The prisoner gave it up. He was 24 years old, and his clothing was soiled and much worn. He seemed hungry, both for sympathy and for food. He said that…he saw the copper lying on the Cob dock and thought it was rubbish.          
          Spqs was held for an examination, and went off to jail with a deputy, not seeming to care very much where he went or what was his fate. The deputy avoided pronouncing his name by referring to him as 'Say, Bill.'"
Nuangola, PA joins Stamford, CT, Houston, TX, St. Clair Shores, MI, and Topeka, KS on the list for cities with employees/officials caught stealing metal. According to citizensvoice.com, Nuangola councilman Steven Hudack and a few others were caught cutting up an excavating bucket and its chains at the former Emerald Anthracite coal breaker. Apparently, Hudack admitted to the theft at first, but has since maintained his innocence, claiming he "was at the wrong place with the wrong people at the wrong time." Theft does tend to put one in such a position.
New Mexico's Monthly Metal Theft Report for June 2011 is now available on MetalTheft.Net's Law Enforcement/Prevention page. The report includes coverage of a continuing trend of battery thefts. Click here for access to report.