Scranton police have charged a man with stealing metal from abandoned houses and selling the stuff to scrap yards.
Police said scrap theft is becoming more and more common, so they are stepping up their game.
Erik Zimmerman of Scranton was hit with a long list of charges this week, including burglary, theft and trespassing for a number of burglaries over the last few months in the city.
According to court papers, Zimmerman stole refrigerators, sinks and radiators from four vacant houses in the city’s hill section.
Police said he then sold some of the appliances to local scrap yards.
Also this week, security cameras caught three men stealing copper and other metals from two scrap yards in Carbondale. Police are still looking for those people.
Scranton Police Chief Dan Duffy said since scrap metal theft is occurring more and more, the police are putting more measures in place to help them catch the thieves.
They have been keeping a closer eye on the scrap yards.
“Their records are crucial to us, and that’s why we check these businesses to make sure they maintain their records because that’s how we’ve solved a lot of cases in the past,” Chief Duffy said.
It is state law for scrap yards to make a copy of a photo ID from anyone who comes in looking to sell scrap, and they have to keep a record of items that were sold.
There is also an online resource to help catch scrap thieves. The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries put together a registry. scrapyard can check the site to see what items have been reported stolen.
Chief Duffy says reporting thefts as soon as possible is key. And scrapyard records have helped them catch thieves in the past.
“Our officers are in constant contact with the scrap yards. We look for specific items, it really is communication,” added Duffy.
Erik Zimmerman is in Lackawanna County jail with bail set at $40,000 for the four burglaries in Scranton.
Police in Carbondale are still looking for the three men they said stole from two scrap yards.