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Cracking Down on Copper Thefts
CEDAR RAPIDS (CBS 2/ FOX 28)-- For every piece of metal dropped off to Alter Recycling Center , there's at least one of a dozen cameras keeping close watch.
"We have cameras up above the scales, said quality manager Galen Crozier. "We can also see the people bringing it in."
Some may call it paranoia, but Crozier calls it prevention.
The extra cameras and mandatory ID checks are how the company is trying to make it harder for copper thieves to bring in stolen metals.
"We're not going to know if this was material that was cut in a guy's garage or if it's material that was cut from a heating and cooling place after being properly used," Crozier said pointing to a pile of copper wire.
Cracking down on copper thefts is now a statewide effort. Utility companies like Alliant Energy are also working with police through a Crime Stoppers program to stop the growing trend.
Even high-voltage substations have been broken into to get copper.
"There will be people that will cut holes in fences," said Heather Holmes, spokesperson for Alliant Energy.
Holmes says the crime isnt just costly but dangerous.
"There are power surges, there are potential explosions, she said. So safety is a huge concern."
Thats why places like Alter recycling are trying to stop thieves before they get too far.
"Prevention is the key," Crozier said.
Crozier says the company is also trying to discourage copper thieves by paying for metals by check instead of hard cash.