Materials Theft

The recycling industry has been fighting materials theft for years. A growing number of reports of metal theft have brought the issue to the attention of politicians and lawmakers, and they have begun to take action. Unfortunately, this action is often taken without any real understanding of the issue, let alone the industry their laws and regulations affect most. The problem cannot be solved regionally. Increased demand for metals from countries abroad means the market doesn’t stop at our borders, and neither do the thieves who want to sell their material.

Rather than regulating recyclers, CARI believes materials theft should instead be fought through protection of material, cross-industry and cross-border cooperation, and proper punishment of criminals. Deterring theft should be the first priority of property owners and utility providers. Protecting property is far more cost effective than repairing damage or replacing stolen material. Securing material and installing video surveillance and alarm systems are obvious solutions, but marking material can also be a useful deterrent.

Police, property owners, and scrap dealers must also have an easy means of communicating theft reports and suspicious material to one another. Several years ago CARI established an industry-based bulletin alert system to fight metal theft. With the assistance and support of ISRI, this system eventually evolved into the website The site covers Canada and the U.S. and encourages cooperation between recyclers and law enforcement officers in tracking stolen material. Like thieves, the alerts posted on this site cross regions, thereby increasing the possibility of recovering material and identifying thieves.

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