Buying recycled metal? Make sure it’s not stolen

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Buying recycled metal? Make sure it’s not stolen
scrap metal recycling

Photo by Erik Hersman

Metal recycling has become a popular trend over the last few years, and not just for its environmental benefits – metal recyclers are able to make money for all of the metal they deliver to recycling depots. If you take it seriously enough you can make over $100 in a day, just delivering metal to a scrap yard.

But the financial incentive behind the recycling is also causing other problems. Now thieves are stealing metal from anywhere they can find it, including sewer and manhole covers as well as copper piping and wires, given the recent increase in the value of copper. When the scavengers then deliver the stolen metal to the recycling depot, they are supposed to provide proper identification and the facility is supposed to photograph and fingerprint the seller, as well as hold payments for three days. However, that doesn’t always happen.

Take for instance a recent case in San Francisco, where a recycling yard owned by Sims Metal Management accepted metal that was not only stolen, but stolen from high profile organizations: the metal was stamped with San Francisco’s Department of Public Works logo, and wires were labelled Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

For Sims’ negligence and accepting the stolen metal without following proper procedure, the business was fined $4.1 million. California is clearly setting an example of Sims Metal Management in an effort to deter other metal recycling yards from turning a blind eye to what are obviously stolen goods.

If you find yourself in the market for some recycled metal, be sure you’re buying it from a trusted source, and avoid getting caught up in the illegal metal trading business.


This article is published in partnership with Scrapco, a scrap metal recycler that ensures scrap is recycled in an environmentally-friendly way.

Located in Toronto, Ontario, Ian is the co-founder of The Auto Future and managing editor. Add Ian to your Circles on Google+ or Follow on Twitter @iapa.