Region 8 police department seeing increase in scrap metal thefts

NEWPORT, AR (KAIT) - In Jackson County, officers with the sheriff's department have had their hands full with the number of scrap metal cases already this year.

"There shouldn't be a ditch, a field, anything in Jackson County with a piece of scrap metal in it because they're even getting it out of the ditches," said Shannon Webb with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.

He says scrap metal theft has kept officers busy, from backyards, fields..."If it's not tied down and they can get their hands on it, they're taking it," said Webb.

Webb says out of the 63 theft of property cases so far this year, nearly half were scrap metal related. "Last month alone, probably 35 thousand dollars in scrap metal theft," said Webb.

The department has been working closely with the scrap yards in the area. "We have two of the scrap yards in our area that have video systems that we have access to where we can pull them up and have live footage. We can track what's going across their scales and what they're taking in," said Webb.

But even with that, Webb says scrap metal thieves are getting sneaky. "They're burning it and disguising it in with other stuff to get the weight they need to get the good money out of it," said Webb.

With scrap prices high, and the economy still tough. He says crooks are doing anything to make quick, easy money. Some even going as far as stealing power lines.

"Farmers Electric, which it the electric company around here, they had 13 different spans of what they call neutral wire that was torn down and hauled off for scrap," said Webb.

Webb says as scrap prices continue to rise, so with the number of scrap theft cases. The department made two arrests last week, and will continue to work diligently. Webb is advising anyone who sees any type of suspicious activity to call the Sheriff's Department.

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