How is Albany combating copper theft?

Copper theft is an ongoing problem here in Albany, and one southern Georgia city is doing something about it.

The city of Columbus recently organized a copper theft task force.

Copper theft is a crime that does not discriminate.

In the county, the farmers are suffering from irrigation systems being broken into and large quantities of copper being taken, in the city, I know police are working numerous air conditioning thefts, says Caption Craig Dodd of the Dougherty County Sheriff TMs Office.

And it's not going to stop anytime soon"copper can fetch up to four dollars a pound.

It's a theft of opportunity and unfortunately criminals see that as a quick way to make money, says Chip Koplin, spokesperson for Schnitzer Southeast, LLC.

And there are precautions that recycling businesses are mandated to take.

Required to get a form of identification, the recyclers must record the tag number of the vehicle bringing it in, recyclers have to make a photo copy or electronic scan of the driver's license, said Koplin.

One of the problems is copper is really difficult to trace. But a new wire, called proof positive is changing that.

Where they actually put a different color wire on it and a serial number on there, says Koplin.

The city of Columbus announced a copper theft task force that consists of representatives from three law enforcement agencies, local real estate managers, commercial developers and presidents of scrap metal companies. District Attorney Greg Edwards says we had a task force, but the investigator working it recently changed jobs.

And Edwards says the copper theft task force here in Albany wasn't as extensive as the one seen now in Columbus, consisting of only one investigator. But after hearing about it, he says it's something to consider for the future.

We agree conceptually that a task force is the best way to deal with this type issue because you do have many players involved with it, you have the people that receive the copper and other metals, the recyclers, you do have law enforcement, said District Attorney Greg Edwards.

And officials say there are ways to tell if the copper's been stolen--for instance if the insulation is still on it, or it might have been burned off, in which case the copper will be burned. And also if someone comes in with a large amount of copper--that could also tip off the recycling businesses.