Metal thefts plummeted in Tucson from a peak in 2012 thanks to a concerted effort among law enforcement, businesses and metal recyclers, city and police officials said during a morning press conference at City Hall.
“The city was experiencing metal theft at unprecedented levels,” said Mayor Jonathan Rothschild during a morning press conference. “Due to the business community coming together with our police department, we are now below levels we a were at in 2010.”
Three years ago, as copper prices soared and the recession lingered, Tucsonans reported 983 metal thefts for a property loss of $2.9 million, a four-fold increase over the 211 metal thefts reported in 2010 for a property loss of $652,000.
“There were so many issues that were affecting our small businesses, our large businesses, and our homeowners,” said Assistant Police Chief Kathleen Robinson.
To address this, a coalition of business groups, including the Metropolitan Pima Alliance and Building Owners and Managers Association, formed the Pima County Metal Theft Task Force to work with TPD to combat metal thefts.
Prior to the partnership, the department didn’t have any lines of communication open with businesses or metal recyclers to coordinate their efforts, said TPD Sgt. Mike Jennings.
Jennings said the coordination along with upping enforcement in areas with high reports of metal thefts helped drop the rate.
In addition to those efforts, a 2013 state law requiring recyclers to register anyone selling metal dissuaded many would metal thieves, said Dan Heirshberg, a representative of the Arizona Scrap Recyclers Association.
As a result, metal thefts reported fell to 99 in 2014 for a property loss of $310,000.
Despite the successes, the effort will continue.
On Tuesday, the Pima County Metal Theft Task Force donated $6,000 so TPD can continue its campaign against metal theft.
Robinson appreciated the gift, but said cooperation between the police department and businesses were the driving force behind the dramatic drop in metal thefts.
“We cannot do the work that we do without the community and the businesses,” Robinson said. “The financial support is wonderful. But what’s more important is the relationships.”