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Metal theft: a global scourge

Worldwide – A two-year prison sentence and a US$ 400 000 restitution fine have been imposed on a former Maryland landfill employee in one of many theft-related stories to have impacted the metals recycling sector of late.

US district judge Marvin Garbis added three years of supervised release to the punishment of Jarred Hazelton, who pretended to be working for the Baltimore department of public works and unlawfully collected and sold scrap metal between May 2005 and May last year. Hazelton failed to report some US$ 476 700 of income from the illegal venture.

Also in the USA, thefts of material worth up to US$ 13 000 came to light in Florida last month. A scrap yard owner had his suspicions about an assortment of bronze gravestone nameplates and contacted local police. In Hawaii, meanwhile, several urns have been stolen from a family crypt and reportedly sold at a local recycling centre for just US$ 31.

In South Africa, meanwhile, a string of incidents has prompted the launch of an awareness campaign in a bid to prevent thieves from targeting swimming pool pumps and water metres. The crime unit is hoping criminals will be deterred by extended jail terms of up to 30 years – even longer than the time served by many murderers.

Meanwhile, Australia is trying to tackle unlicensed scrappers who are accepting stolen cars with a price tag of around A$ 300 on a don’t-ask-don’t-tell basis. It has been estimated that around 20% of stolen vehicles make their way onto the country’s scrap market.

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