You've heard us talking about it before - thieves ripping off metal in the Valley. It may not seem like a serious crime, but it costs you money and is a serious enough problem that state lawmakers are getting involved.
"We got hit three different times," said Pastor Bill Woods at the Desert Hope Wesleyan Church. He said it was a hot summer after their air conditioning units were ripped off.
"The insurance company ended up paying about $65,000 for what was taken," Woods said. He added they've only been able to pay down $500 of the $3,000 deductible they owe.
"We're doing the very best we can," he said.
"We've had a report of wiring cut in southern Arizona that shut 911 down for eight hours," said Rep. Tom Forese. He said the 2,300 reports of metal theft in Maricopa County this year only resulted in 24 convictions. He chairs the Metal Theft Committee and said they're trying to change that.
"There is an alert system that's been set up by the scrap yard industry to connect victims, police and the scrap yards," he said. He wants to see that system used and the legitimate scrap yards should be keeping records of customers, alerting law enforcement if anyone's selling more than $50,000 worth of scrap. The problem is everyone is legitimate.
"Those fly-by-night scrap yards that go up overnight do not follow state rules," Forese said.
Forese also wants to see PSAs, harsher punishment for thieves caught in the act and law enforcement sting operations to see if the thieves are more organized than they think.
Woods, meanwhile, has installed some security features and keeps fans on hand, just in case.
"It is a huge problem," Woods said.
So what can you do? Be vigilant, and if you see someone tinkering around without a uniform or work truck, call police.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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