Scrap dealers know to reject hot copper
A scrap dealership's employee has been charged with theft for the purchase of copper wire after being told it was stolen.
SOME metal recyclers have opposed legislation that would make theft of copper a felony, but a sting operation by police raises questions about their complicity. Honest scrap dealers should heed the concern and cooperate with police in stemming the growing tide of crime.
Chaewan Chon, owner of Aiea Recycling, told KITV News last year that he asks for identification from all sellers of scrap metal but added that it would be difficult to determine where the wires are from. Last week, police arrested Kyung Kee Chon, identified as an Aiea Recycling employee, on a felony theft charge of buying a 653-pound spool of wire worth $3,334 labeled "HECO" that the seller, an undercover police officer, told her had been stolen from Hawaiian Electric.
The sting also resulted in misdemeanor scrap-metal violation charges against an employee of Island Recycling, a Sand Island company that markets itself as the state's largest recycling operation. Four other recycling companies were cited for technical violations.
Copper prices have soared in recent years, and thefts have resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses over the past year. Hawaiian Electric has been the victim of about 20 thefts of copper wiring, and bandits have stripped copper gutters from schools, churches, homes and businesses.
The Hawaii Law Enforcement Coalition of police chiefs and prosecutors has proposed making theft of copper a felony and requiring scrap dealers to see records of the copper's source, either by receipt or by notarized statement from the seller. Some dealers say they don't want to be bothered with such verification of origin.
The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, the scrap dealers' national trade organization, has called on its members to "develop a working relationship with their local law enforcement, industry and municipalities" to combat theft of scrap metal. The Honolulu sting operation should indicate the consequences of failing to do so.
Oahu Publications, Inc. publishes
the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, MidWeek
and military newspapers
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
David Black, Dan Case, Dennis Francis,
Larry Johnson, Duane Kurisu, Warren Luke,
Colbert Matsumoto, Jeffrey Watanabe, Michael Wo
Editorial Page Editor
(808) 529-4748; firstname.lastname@example.org
The Honolulu Star-Bulletin (USPS 249460) is published daily by Oahu Publications at 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-500, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813. Periodicals postage paid at Honolulu, Hawaii. Postmaster: Send address changes to Star-Bulletin, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.