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New Internet program helps in Maryland theft case

According to a recent report, it just got easier for authorities to solve cases involving stolen property, specifically items made of scrap metal. With the help of a new program called ScrapTheftAlert.com, one Maryland theft case was just solved this week.

The online service was created to help target the growing trend of people stealing and selling scrap metal. Certain metals are valuable, such as bronze and copper, making items made up of those elements targeted property for theft crimes.

So while people might have thought that the recent Maryland theft of five bronze sculptures was related to art lovers, the suspects were more likely after the value of the bronze itself. That theory was confirmed on Monday, when the ScrapTheftAlert.com system worked to locate the missing sculptures.

The program works like this: Workers in the scrap metal industry and law enforcement officials register to use the site. On the law enforcement side of things, when a theft involves scrap metals, police are encouraged to report the crime on the website as soon as possible. If an employee at a scrap metal yard notices a suspicious drop off, they are supposed to report the drop off on the site.

In the recent Maryland case, police didn't report the theft on the new website. An employee from the scrap metal industry actually heard of the case and wrote about it using the program. When workers from a scrap yard read the notification about the sculptures a day later, they realized that suspects had dropped off property fitting that description. They reported the transaction and also gave officials the driver's license details of the suspect who had sold them the scrap metal.

Currently, 7,000 users reportedly subscribe to the anti-theft system. There is a push for more law enforcement to participate in the program, and if the use of the website grows, it will be make it easier for law enforcement to identify theft suspects.

Source

Steel Guru: "New online theft alert system launches for scrap industry," 23 Jan. 2011

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