January 3, 2013 — The theft of metals is a chronic public safety problem in Salt Lake City. Police Chief Chris Burbank talks about the subject with Detective Robert Ungricht in a new video posted online at www.slcpd.com today.
According to Ungricht, this type of crime occurs citywide, from industrial and commercial areas to city parks and streets. Thieves are active nights and weekends when normal traffic in an area typically is at a low point, he said.
News reports routinely chronicle the damage wrought by metals thieves, who target the following sources of recyclable materials:
- platinum in catalytic converters on vehicles;
- copper wiring in city streetlights, utility boxes, and air conditioners;
- and bronze in decorative statues and plaques.
“Basically people are just taking this metal because right now the price of metal is going up and so it’s profitable for these … criminals to take this metal and go to the recycler and make some quick cash off of it,” Ungricht said, but it costs the public much more.
Metals thefts affect the entire community, he explained, noting that “in a lot of these cases the city itself is paying … to repair and replace this copper or metal that’s being stolen or damaged. It’s also affecting all of us through insurance because as insurance companies are paying out for this, it’s raising all of our premiums.”
So what can the public do about it? Report any suspicious activity. Ungricht said metals thieves are now trying to dress like utility or construction workers, complete with hardhats and vests, so as not to attract attention. But take a closer look, he said, noting that “a lot of them are coming in on bicycles or older cars that you wouldn’t see with a utility company.”
If you see something suspicious, say something. For confidential tips, the Police Department offers the TipSoft online portal or mobile application. Anonymous tips may be sent by texting TIPSLCPD plus information to CRIMES (274637). To install the free app for iPhone or Droid, search for “TipSoft” or “TipSubmit” on the Apple App Store or Android Market.
About the Chief’s Message
Chief Burbank issues a monthly video message to help the public reduce its exposure to or mitigate the effects of crime. All of Chief Burbank’s video messages are archived on the newsroom page of www.slcpd.com and the Chief’s Message playlist of www.youtube.com/saltlakecitypolice.
Contact: Reporters seeking comment should contact the Public Information Officer at 801.799.NEWS (6397).