Taking Aim at Ohio’s Metal Theft Problem

Source: The Drum, June 7, 2012, http://bit.ly/1ak2Wuo

Source: The Drum, June 7, 2012, http://bit.ly/1ak2Wuo

(May 1, 2013) The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) metal theft report finds that Ohio leads the country in metal theft claims (copper, bronze, brass and aluminum) for 2010-12 with 3,228. Texas and Georgia round out the top three states. Additionally, Ohio hosts two of the top 10 U.S. hotbeds for metal theft claims activity according to the report. Ranking sixth is the MSA of Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN and ranking ninth is the Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor corridor. NICB’s previous year’s report also ranked Ohio in the top spot generating 2,398 metal theft claims.

Ohio Increases Efforts to Combat Metal Theft
Many states are taking measures to combat metal theft including Ohio. SB 193 unanimously passed both the Ohio House and Senate and was signed by the Governor in June 2012. Under SB 193, Ohio now operates a mandatory online registry for scrap metal and bulk merchandise container dealers on the Ohio Homeland Security’s website. The online registry aims to crack down on metal theft by focusing on the end point–scrap dealers and recycling facilities.

By 2014, Ohio scrap dealers are required to report transactions through an electronic reporting system maintained by the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS). Dealers are to send transactions to the ODPS by noon on the following business day. The records must include information such as a picture of the seller and the weight of the product they’re selling. In addition, ODPS will maintain a “Do Not Buy From” list with the names of known scrap metal thieves for use by law enforcement agencies and dealers.

In addition to a stronger state law, local ordinances are being passed that strengthen Ohio law and curtail local fencing of valuable metals. As a home rule state, Ohio cities and municipalities can pass ordinances that add teeth to state law. For example, Columbus requires scrap metal sellers to be fingerprinted (thumbprint) to discourage fencing of stolen property.

Business Measures for Deterring Metal Theft
The best defense is to prevent metal theft at the source. To reduce the risk, businesses can take measures including:

  • Install a security camera with a video recorder and store the recordings.
  • Secure all equipment and scrap metals in locked buildings or in well-lit areas secured by fencing. Consider a perimeter security system with contact alarms or motion detectors, or install a six-foot perimeter fence with barbed wire at the top (as permitted by local regulations) that has locked gates.
  • Post “No Trespassing” placards or signs indicating the presence of a surveillance or security system.
  • Remove items that promote access to buildings and roofs such as trees, ladders, scaffolding and dumpsters.
  • Secure access to the building with deadbolts and door and window locks.
  • Trim or remove shrubbery or other landscaping that allows criminals to hide from view on your property.
  • Increase exterior lighting and protect fixtures (such as AC units) with locked metal cages.
  • Mark metals, AC units and other items with the company’s name using paint, hard-to-remove decals or engraving equipment.
  • Make sure someone is present when supplies such as copper, wiring or pipe are delivered to a job site so they can be immediately secured.
  • Avoid lengthy storage of supplies. The longer metal is onsite and unused, the longer it’s at risk for theft.
  • Develop a relationship with local law enforcement. Ask for their guidance in preventing metal theft at your business and what to do if a theft occurs.
  • Create a master list of equipment and bulk metal (if applicable) and include pictures. Provide the list to your insurance company/agent and law enforcement officials to aid in theft recovery.
  • If you have a metal theft, call the police immediately so that local recyclers and scrap dealers are alerted. Be sure to preserve the crime scene, including tire tracks, shoe tracks and fingerprints. This evidence could be used to help prosecute the thieves if they are caught.
    (Source: Nationwide Insurance)

Resource links

 Frank Scafidi, fscafidi@nicb.org, 916.979.1510
Ohio info: Dean Fadel, deanf@ohioinsurance.org, 614.228.1593

Posted May 1, 2013