Two men arrested in connection to scrap metal theft

HARRISBURG, AR (KAIT) – Two  men were arrested by the Poinsett County Sheriff's Office in connection to the theft of a stolen bob truck.

According to Sheriff Larry Mills, Timothy Makool of Wynne was charged with felony theft by receiving greater than $2,500. Mills said his company, Kool Metals Recycling, purchased the stolen truck from Joe Coats of Cherry Valley. Mills said Coats was charged with theft of property.

"The bob truck has already been cut up. There should be a photograph there. If that bob truck came in there as one piece, there should be a photograph of it," said Mills. "Not only do they fail to do the correct required reporting, but it almost seems like there was intentional deception as well because why would you describe, there's a place for trucks. It didn't say trucks. It said scrap tin."

Mills said Kool Metals Recycling violated a state law that requires scrap metal facilities to report the purchase of such metals to Leads Online, a nationwide database accessed by police to perform investigations. Mills said the violation can prohibit police to do detective work.

"They're supposed to photograph the metal, or whatever comes in, in the condition that it comes in. In this particular case, this bob truck should have been photographed as a bob truck," said Mills. "We want to make sure that we have effective tools that we can use to try to curb this and try to catch these folks who are stealing."

Makool said Wednesday he's disappointed with what has happened.

"I got a lot of egg on my face on this. I'm very disappointed that this situation came up. In the same respect, I think it's a good thing, because it's a good time for a real good thorough check to make sure we're dotting our I's and crossing our T's," said Makool. "I like the reputation of knowing that we're doing it right. This thing didn't come out that way. I'm very disappointed and I'm going to see to it that we don't have this problem ever again."

Makool said he's worked with police in Wynne to prevent the theft of copper wiring and other valuable metals. He said he's asked police what to do to run a clean business.

"I respect the police department and the sheriff's office, and I respect the law. I don't know how all that stuff comes out. I just know that we tell the truth," said Makool, who said he's done business with Coats several times. "The state has done a good job of trying to weed out the small, hidden places, but there are still places all over the state where if a person has copper or something like that, if they want to pawn it off on somebody, they can do that."

Makool said his company listed the bob truck as more than 8,500 pounds of scrap tin because there isn't a category on Leads Online for used vehicles.

"The wording for vehicles or for material on the Leads Online program that's set up through the state, it lists iron and tin. It doesn't list vehicles," said Makool.

Mills said scrap metal dealers do have a place on the online form to list vehicles.

"There were some questions with the scrap metal dealer as far as they did not do the required reporting. We had those guidelines set in the form of law in 2009 for the required reporting," said Mills. "When they did their reporting to Leads Online, which is a software program we use here, it was described as scrap tin. 8,400 to 8, 600 pounds of scrap tin."

According to the incident report, Randy Jones and his son reported the bob truck missing near some grain bins on Highway 1 south of Harrisburg. Randy's son Hunter found the truck, already crushed, at Kool Metal Recycling. With assistance from the Wynne Police Department, sheriff's deputies were able to obtain a bill of sale on the truck. The bill of sale identified Coats as the seller.

According to the report, detectives learned Coats sold items to Kool Metal Recycling 11 times in a month's span. One report identified the transaction of 8,760 pounds of scrap tin sold for $1,007.40.

Upon further investigation, police report Coats purchasing the vehicle from Lance Coppland. Coats told police he met Coppland at the grain bins on Highway 1 and paid $400 for the truck. Police provided Region 8 News with a copy of the bill of sale for the $400 transaction.

Detective Ron Martin told Region 8 News Wednesday a search for the name 'Lance Coppland' through ACIC returned nothing.

Scrap metal theft is a problem all Region 8 counties have experienced, Mills said.

"We have center pivots off the irrigation systems that are stripped and rice wells and on and on and on because the price of metal is so high," said Mills.

Mills said he supports scrap dealers who operate lawfully.

"There's nothing wrong with scrapping. There's nothing wrong with scrap dealers making a living, but we just want to make sure that everybody is complying with the law," said Mills.

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