It's Spring in Michigan and that means warmer weather to melt the snow and ice off of the scrap metal that you've stored behind your barn or garage. You hook onto your trailer, ready to load all those goodies up and sell them at the local scrap yard. But that's when you realize that the scrap you stashed away last Fall is missing. Gone. Nowhere to be found. Poof!
Sadly, you've become a victim of scrap theft. While the Police and local scrap yards can file a report and assist you with recovering your material, oftentimes weeks or months have passed since the material was stolen. Unfortunately, this may mean that you will never see your beloved scrap metal again. It's just too late to do anything about it.
Currently, scrap prices are some of the highest since 2008/2009. Couple that with the warmer Michigan weather, and I think it will be easy to see how scrap theft (or even theft of new items that can be sold as scrap) could become a serious issue. That's why we are providing all of you with a list of ideas to help prevent yourselves from becoming a victim of scrap theft. While many of these tips may seem quite obvious, you would be surprised at how many of these simple things people just don't do. That's why we thought it would be worth a mention.
To Help Deter Would-Be Thieves and to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Scrap Theft (or Theft in General), Be Sure to Follow These 14 Tips:
Mark Private Property with "No Trespassing" Signs. This makes it clear that unwanted visitors are not welcome.
Educate Yourself. Learn what types of items can be sold as scrap as well as their scrap values. That way you will know what potential thieves may be looking for. To see the types of items that are/aren't purchased at D&W Salvage, as well as to look at current pricing, visit the Material Information page at http://www.dwsalvage.biz/material-information or the Pricing page at http://www.dwsalvage.biz/pricing.
Keep Items Out Sight. Keep valuable items or items that could potentially be sold for scrap locked away, out of sight and securely stored. Garages, storage units, sheds, basements, and well-secured barns are great places to store items that could be of interest to thieves.
Mark Your Scrap/Valuables. This is super important! Use paint, hard to remove decals, engraving, or other permanent (and unique) means to mark your items. While it won't prevent them from getting stolen, it helps both the police and scrap yards: 1.) More easily identify your items so they can return them to you, and 2.) Pinpoint the person(s) who are stealing in the first place.
Lock Your Doors and Windows. Out in rural areas like Huron, Tuscola, and Sanilac counties not much happens, so if you forget to lock your doors or windows it's typically not a big deal. We get it. However, sometimes this simple, and seemingly common-sense, act is all it takes to keep the 'more honest' criminals away.
Invest in Fencing. Fencing is a great way to help deter scrap thieves from entering your property. While it might not stop them completely, it may at least slow them down.
Invest in Security Cameras. A quick search on Amazon revealed that you can easily get a simple home security system for less than $300, and in some cases even for less than $100--definitely worth the price if can save you a bunch of hassle in the end. Many of these systems even notify you via text or email if there is movement on your property and will auto-record for a set amount of time. This way if there is an attempted theft in process, or if one has happened you will at least have some video footage to take to the police. Also, many times just the sight of a security camera on your property can be enough to keep thieves away.
Ensure Your Property is Well-Lit. Dark corners give would-be thieves places to hide without being noticed. A flood light mounted on the peak of a barn/garage, a lamppost next to a driveway, or wall lighting on your house are all great ways to add light to your yard and help deter theft.
Trim/Remove Shrubbery. A thick hedgerow, an overgrown shrub, or a patch of underbrush can be enticing to a thief when they are looking for a place to hide. Give criminals nowhere to hide by ensuring the landscaping on your property is trimmed and well-maintained.
Do Not Keep the Title for a Motor Vehicle Inside the Vehicle. If a would-be thief wanted to steal a vehicle for scrap, not only would they need to be pretty 'guts-y', but they would also need the title. Leaving the title in the glove box or console is like a 'golden ticket' for a car thief--they just need to forge a signature and find somewhere to sell it. And if they're gutsy enough to steal a car, forging a signature will be the least of their worries! So do yourself a favor and store the title in a safe spot inside your home--and lock your cars while you're at it.
Write Down Serial Numbers on All Personal Property. If any of your valuable items or scrap items have serial numbers, be sure to write them down and store the list in a safe place. It may be a pain to catalog all those numbers, but this way if your items do go missing, you can identify what is yours with certainty. Serial numbers also help ensure you get the proper replacement value when filing an insurance claim for stolen new/valuable items.
Report Suspicious People/Vehicles to the Police. If you see a strange vehicle creeping by your property unusually slow, or even multiple times a day, it could be a sign they are casing the area. Or if you see people milling around that don't belong, or are acting unusual/sneaky, they could be up to something. In either case, give your local law enforcement a call so they can help keep an eye on things.
Ask A Trusted Neighbor to Keep an Eye on Your Property. If you have a neighbor you can trust, ask them to help keep an eye out for any unusual activity on/around your property. This is especially important if you are going to be out of town.
Make it Look Like You are Home. If you are away from your home or property, try to make it look like you are still there. Don't allow vehicles to sit in the same place for too long. Put lamps or lights on timers to come on at times when you would normally be home. Hire someone to mow the grass, get the mail, and handle any other matters that may make it obvious that you aren't home.
What Happens if I Try These Things and Still Have Items Stolen?
Unfortunately, sometimes no matter what you do, you can't stop the most determined thief. If you still find yourself to be victim of scrap theft, be sure to do the following:
Call Local Law Enforcement FIRST. This is very important! The police need to be the first people you notify regarding a theft. They will file a police report and obtain any other information necessary. This gives them the information and the authorization they need to investigate further. Also, the police have the ability to submit scrap theft cases to sites like ScrapTheftAlert.com, which compile the information and send out email alerts to all of the area scrap yards.
Call Your Local Scrap Yard. After you call the police and file a report, then give us a call at 989-269-6829. Let us know:
A description of the stolen items.
How you had them marked to denote they were yours.
Which agency you called to file a police report.
This way, we can be on the lookout for your stolen items. If someone delivers them to our yard, we would be happy to set them aside and notify the appropriate police department. At that point we will cooperate with the police to provide any information they may need.
NOTE: Please understand that we respect the privacy of all of our customers. We cannot and will not provide another customer's information to a member of the general public, even in the event of a suspected theft case. However, we would be happy to cooperate with law enforcement. This is why it is VERY important that you contact the police and file a report before you reach out to us.
Understand that Not All Scrap Theft Cases are Resolved. It is sad, but true. Both law enforcement and scrapyards (like ourselves) do our best to help those who have had their items stolen. Many times the effort pays off--the scrap is recovered and the thief is caught, which is always wonderful news! However, thieves are constantly looking for ways to outsmart everyone. Many times their methodology works, which means that the case is never resolved.
Be Patient. Thieves are tricky, and it sometimes takes a while for them to get caught. While your particular theft case may have been unresolved, remember that even the best criminal will have a bad day and eventually make a mistake that leads to their arrest. Alternatively, even if the stolen items are recovered relatively quickly and the police are notified, it does take time for theft cases to make their way through the legal system. In either case, just be patient in knowing that justice will eventually be served.
Scrap metal theft costs our state countless dollars in stolen public and private property.
--Rashida Tlaib, United States Representative, Michigan 13th District