14 Jan 2015

Mark Aluminum Bleachers and Report Thefts Quickly to Stop Thieves from Cashing in

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theft of aluminum bleachers

At times, aluminum bleachers become a target for thieves

If you are a school facility manager, a park manager or anybody involved with aluminum bleachers, you have to just shake your head in wonder at this story.

In 2014, The Springfield News-Leader reported three people thought it would be a brilliant idea to steal more than $50,000 worth of aluminum bleachers from the Ozark School District in Missouri.

Okay, we know there is money in scrap metal. Rather than send old discarded metals or plastic to fill up a landfill, cash it in for a few dollars. No problem. When it is done legitimately.

But some people are going to ridiculous lengths to steal someone else’s metal and turn it into scrap for a few measly dollars. And most quickly find out it is not worth it.

Copper and aluminum are two favorite targets. Oklahoma Gas and Electric reported that the theft of copper wire has cost the utility $130 million since 2005.

But thieves haven’t just limited their thievery to wire. They are also reportedly stealing manhole covers, fire hydrant caps, steel from bridges and bronze vases from cemeteries.

Most bleacher thefts are futile and easily solved

What these people don’t realize is that while it may be easy to steal this stuff, it’s not always easy to sell it to recycling centers.

That’s what the crooks who stole the aluminum bleachers from the soccer field found out.

To start with, guess where is the first place that detectives are going to go when aluminum bleachers are reported stolen? That’s correct, the recycling centers.

Secondly, you just can’t drag a 15-row aluminum bleacher to a recycling center, it’s got to be chopped up. That takes a lot of time and effort. Time and effort better spent with a legitimate endeavor that probably pays just as much.

These thieves reportedly made just $1,600 from the sale of the aluminum scrap.

Finally, you can chop up aluminum bleachers all day long (and it will take you all day long) but those seat planks are easily recognized and generally don’t resemble many other products.

In this crime, deputies visited the recycling centers. Obtained a few names. Went to the home of one of the suspects and found a full array of bleacher parts and hardware.

Arrests were made. Since the value of the bleachers was so high, they were charged with a Class B felony for items stolen over $25,000. They could face 15 years in prison.

Ways to deter theft of aluminum bleachers

Because of the proliferation of metal thefts, some governments are enacting laws where recycling centers cannot accept certain types of scrap. Or the recycling centers must get the names of people involved and background of all materials submitted. Even fingerprints. Some products may require a special pre-approved license.

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries recently partnered with the National Crime Prevention Council and set up a web site called ScrapTheftAlert.com. At the site, someone can immediately report a metal theft and an alert will be sent out to hundreds of member scrap-metal companies across the US. To date, there have been 15,986 alerts issued and $1.5 million in property recovered. There is also a section called “Success Stories” with reports about hapless used metal criminals who were apprehended.

The lesson for site managers and athletic directors is to be sure their aluminum bleachers are fully marked with identifiers to prevent theft. Maybe even put up a sign if there is significant metal theft activity in their area. Check with recycling centers to be sure they won’t accept scrap from aluminum bleachers. Go to ScrapTheftAlert.com right away if there is a theft.

Not only did these Ozark thieves not get away with this theft, but think about the scorn from the local community when they found out these individuals had stolen seats from a kids’ ball field? A place where parents and fans congregate? Kind of a low thing to do.

It’s human nature. When most people see aluminum bleachers they think of attending ball games and cheering on the local kids. But a rare group of misguided individuals will see a misguided opportunity to make a few bucks. They won’t get far with their foolish endeavor. But as a site manager, you certainly don’t want to suffer from the foolish damage they can cause.

Click here to vist ScrapTheftAlert.com.

Update: In early March of 2018, the entire set of aluminum bleachers from a girls’ softball field in Cranston, R.I, was stolen. All that remained was the concrete slab.







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