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Metal thefts rampant in Port Arthur
PORT ARTHUR- by Haley Bull
There's a growing crime epidemic in Port Arthur police are calling a black market: metal theft. Thieves are hitting churches, libraries, homes, vacant buildings and scrap yards .
Locks, an extra layer of protection behind a fence and even a trench along the property aren't enough to keep metal thieves away from Port Iron Limited in Port Arthur.
"There's people on my property every night stealing," David Albright, the manager of Port Iron, said. "It makes it challenging because in order to be in business you have to be able to afford to stay in business."
Albright said metal thieves have increased his cost of staying in business by about $2,000 every week.
"Any type of brass, aluminum, the regular steel and iron, they're stealing that also," he said.
The thieves left behind evidence of their visit, holes in the fence.
"We repaired another section up there and so every time they repair one they cut another one and this was cut with a saw, they just peeled it right back," Albright said pointing to a spot along the fence.
The fence is a prime example of how some thieves are breaking in, but it's not the only place hit. Port Arthur Police said metal theft is an epidemic city-wide.
"Homes, churches, businesses, if it has copper in it, they'll get into it," Port Arthur Detective Steve Flores said.
He gets at least a case a day.
"The way a lot of these guys work is they'll do it at night, they'll go to the businesses that are closed, they'll go to the places where things are unsecured, they have no problem with going into a vacant building and emptying out the whole thing," Flores said.
The thieves take everything including air conditioning units and anything with copper, aluminum, brass, bronze, iron or steel.
In this case, crime pays because prices are rising.
"It's become a black market industry that has really exploded over the last few years and they're just eating away at our city like a cancer," Port Arthur Police Sergeant Scott Gaspard said.
The crime is growing quickly.
"If we don't stop it we're going to lose the whole city," Gaspard said.
Police said you can help combat metal theft by installing cameras outside your business and immediately reporting any suspicious behaviors or thefts.