Reedley Struggles with Metal Theft

August 10, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Reedley is struggling with a series of small thefts that's costing the community thousands. The Reedley Community Parkway takes you down the heart of a small town. Vandals are strolling through the trial and stealing small bronze plaques from benches- not just a few but more than two dozen.

Dana Ritschel, City of Reedley, says "We have tried almost everything you can think of to secure them to these benches. We just put one up yesterday. We're going to try welding the plaques to it and see if that stops it."

Ritschel said each plaque goes for a few bucks at a scrap yard. In turn, it costs $150 for replacements. Ritschel believes a simple solution could be down the street. "City leaders point to Citizens Park as an example of how neighbors can battle metal theft on their own. People took ownership of the park and patrol for thieves. As a result, there have been no cases of vandalism."

Valley police officers also report a sharp increase of catalytic converters being stolen. Trucks are major targets. Gonzalo Ramirez, Bauer's Auto Wrecking, says "Those tend to be a little bit higher off the ground. It gives a little bit more room. And they tend to come with a larger catalytic converter which is worth a little bit more money so I would imagine they want to go for the big score."

State lawmakers now want to require junk dealers and recyclers to maintain records on those selling metals. It could help catch whoever is stealing from Reedley. Demetrius McDougal, Reedley College Student, says "I don't think it's worth it. Because where I'm from, I'm from Florida, and you can only get $0.50 for that."

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