Theft is one of the few downsides of recycling metal. This is especially true in New Zealand where cases of metal theft have dominated the news over the years. Despite the great risks, the growing demand for copper, aluminium and other metals have given thieves incentives attractive enough to take them.
The government has played an active role in curbing metal theft by enforcing the law strictly and collaborating with organizations, like the Scrap Metal Recycling Association of New Zealand (SMRANZ), to apprehend suspects fast and obtain stolen goods. Yet, the issue remains a serious concern.
Here are some of the main reasons it is hard to catch metal thieves:
Victims Do Not Involve the Police
The police usually to fail to investigate many metal theft cases because they are not being reported. Curiously, some victims intentionally do not want to get the authorities involved. Without reporting theft, the police cannot act on unreported incidents.
Scrap Metal Operators Don’t Get Notified
The SMRANZ can help expedite the arrest of suspected thieves and intercept stolen metals by getting the word out to its network of licensed scrap metal operators. However, the organization also needs the victim to the report the theft to it with the police file number.
Some victims that reach out to the SMRANZ also lack a sense of urgency. Considering there is only a small window before thieves could sell illegally obtained metal products, it is imperative to report the theft immediately.
Some Yards Don’t Play by the Rules
Disreputable scrap metal yards are also part of the problem. It is more difficult to regulate them because they do not have licenses from the Secondhand Dealers and Pawnbrokers Act 2004.
While the same law requires dealers to record all transactions and seller details, some scrap yard owners ignore this practice whenever it suits them.
Regardless of the trade’s rewards, nobody truly gains anything because everyone would ultimately suffer from the costly consequences of metal theft. The problem might be far from being solved, but the crusade to stop, or at least reduce, it is far from over either.