Why isn’t the media covering these stories?
With the record metal prices criminals are going to new lengths to steal metals and sell them to recycling companies. Anything with significant copper, aluminum or other valuable metal content is a candidate.
Catalytic converters contain significant amounts of platinum and palladium. These metals are at record high prices. Unbelievably, a citizen can walk into a metal recycling company and sell one of these. In California, it is ILLEGAL for wrecking yard to sell these used as they are considered hazardous materials. Yet, you can sell a catalytic converter without the rest of the car!
Theft of catalytic converters is reaching epidemic proportions. 4wd cars and trucks are particularly susceptible in that you can easily crawl under a car and with a ratcheting pipe cutter remove these. Cars like Highlander, Tundra and Ridgeline are particularly susceptible. For example, Hayward Toyota in CA does approximately $70,000 per month in replacement catalytic converters alone. How many do you think are worn out?
Brass has become highly valuable due to its copper content. Now it is not uncommon to have thieves pry off the brass plaques and steal them for resale. Now you would think a recycling center would not accept such metals. More on this later.
The media does report that in whole blown out neighborhoods criminals move into these homes and use them as drug labs and or prostitution outlets. What isn’t reported is the gutting of the copper wire and pipe. This is not done "neatly", either. A truck simply lashes onto the pipe or wire and literally pulls it through the sheetrock. If you stake out a recycling center you can see pickups pull in with a load of residential copper pipe. Once again anyone can sell such stuff.
It seems recycling centers are well aware of what is going on. These suspicious loads are first into the "chipper". Like a wood chipper these machines reduce such contraband to chips when thrown into the grinder. All evidence is thereby destroyed.
It seems like we need some regulations on recycling plants in terms of what they can buy and KNOWING the seller and their sources.
California has a well meaning law that prohibits discharging automobile coolant into the sewage systems. As a result all auto dealerships and after market change stops have recycling programs. Should a spill occur the mechanic can soak it up with a cat litter like clay product and throw it into the recycling barrel. Needless to say this hazardous waste is quite expensive to dispose of. Well, in my first inquiry, I found a dealership that sells 700 gallons a month and yet only recycles 400 gallons. Where does the rest go?