With copper prices down from an all-time high, thefts have declined somewhat, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. However, copper and other metal thefts are still a serious and costly problem throughout the United States, especially for electrical contractors. Catching criminals in the Raleigh, N.C., area is now much easier due to the creative use of banking technology recently installed at the scrap yard of Raleigh Metal Recycling.

“After discussions with our city and county law enforcement, we knew we had to help,” said Gregory Brown, CEO of Raleigh Metal Recycling. “We studied various technologies used in many industries and reviewed new technologies being used in Detroit, where we have another company. We learned that cash withdrawn from a cash draw is not traceable, and with universal access to computers, check fraud has become a huge crime. From this analysis, we made the decision to invest in a comprehensive solution used in today’s banking industry.”

At the heart of the solution are automated teller machines (ATMs) that take and store digital photos of scrap sellers collecting cash. Additional photos of the seller, the material sold and an electronic scan of the seller’s driver’s license are then electronically linked to the ATM photos. One electronic file then contains all the data about the seller to the metal sold, including the seller’s signature.

According to Raleigh Metal Recycling, police officers and investigators appreciate the system because they have everything they need to make their case. With the ATM photo, a person cannot deny they received money for the metal. The ATM creates a paper, photographic and electronic trail which, Brown said, is helping put an end to metal theft.

“We are determined to do whatever we can to solve and reduce the frequency of these crimes. Scrap metal remains a critical component of America’s energy policy due to the enormous energy savings when manufacturing new metal from recycled metal versus manufacturing new metal from mined material. Recycling grows the economy efficiently while creating jobs, but this must not be at the expense of theft,” he said. “We are the largest recycling company in Raleigh, buying recyclables from industrial companies and the public. This application of this technology is one of our investments to help reduce crime in the community.”