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Home  |  News  |  Copper Theif Caught, fight and statewide epidemic continues‏

Copper Theif Caught, fight and statewide epidemic continues‏
Saturday, May 21, 2011

RICHLAND COUNTY, SC - Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott states that when you have one insurance organization paying out $800,000 so far this year in insurance claims for churches alone and there is not a day that goes by that a church, home or business is reporting the theft of metal; that is an epidemic.

Sheriff Leon Lott states that Southern Mutual Church Insurance Company has paid claims in the last two years of $2 million and is working with the Sheriff’s Department on fighting this crisis. Sheriff Leon Lott is working with churches, the Homebuilders Association, Richland County Recycling facilities and citizens on every angle possible to stop the vandalisms, larcenies, unlawful trading of metals and burglaries that are all linked to the epidemic.

To this end the Sheriff states Deputies are proactively patrolling communities, businesses and the recycling facilities for criminals. On May 11, 2011 Deputies captured Daniel Deniro Sims (DOB 1-6-84) with 250 pounds of copper while he was in the process of exchanging it for cash at the Recycling Center located at 1009 Fontaine Road.

Sheriff Leon Lott states that Sims was charged with Unlawful Transportation of Ferrous Metals. Sheriff Leon Lott added that Deputies interviewed Sims, who led them to locations in Lexington County and the City of Columbia where he stole copper from multiple locations over the course of the six weeks. Sheriff Leon Lott states that investigators from all three agencies are working to identify the locations and additional charges connected with Sims; and on any other suspects who worked with Sims.

Sheriff Leon Lott stated that Recycling Centers in Richland County are working proactively with investigators on dealing with this growing problem.

Sheriff Leon Lott added that copper theft has been on the rise throughout South Carolina. In Richland County in 2010 there were 536 reported cases of copper and air conditioning thefts. In 2011, year to date, there are 264 reported cases of copper and air conditioning thefts. Sheriff Leon Lott states that as long as increased demand and prices remain high it will be a problem we will have to deal with. This is why it is very important to take steps to safe guard your property, as best you can, from thieves who leap at every opportunity. Sheriff Leon Lott states some of the ways that we can help remove the opportunity is to:

  • install cameras
  • Post “No Trespassing” signs
  • Put up fencing or caging up
  • Locking buildings securely at night
  • Use florescent paint or engraving to personalize your copper
  • Possibly consider putting your company’s logo on the copper
  • Join a Crime Watch Neighborhood Association
  • Start a Crime Watch Neighborhood Association
  • Take advantage of the free services from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department Community Action Team

This also aids in identifying materials if they’re stolen and turn up later. Remember, let’s all do what we can to remove the “opportunity”.

Sheriff Leon Lott is asking all citizens to help stop the growing problem of copper theft. Churches, businesses, and citizens are all being affected. The Sheriff added that we can continue to solve this problem by locating those who commit these crimes and for citizens to be our extra eyes and ears to capturing others who may be contributing to this issue. Sheriff Lott is asking for assistance in locating anyone wanted in connection for committing any crime--anyone with information about this incident should call, email or text your anonymous tip to Crimestoppers.

If you, or someone you know, have any information regarding any crime, you are encouraged to contact Crimestoppers. You could earn a reward up to $1,000.

Anonymous tips can be submitted to Crimestoppers by calling 1-888-CRIME-SC.

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