JACKSON, Miss. (Press Release) — Attorney General Jim Hood, Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper and representatives for Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell met in Memphis today for a roundtable discussion on the growing concern of copper theft.
Representatives from Mississippi’s Secretary of State’s Office, Agriculture Commission and Department of Public Safety also attended the Memphis meeting along with the FBI and law enforcement representatives for the following counties: Warren, Humphries, Jefferson, Desoto, Holmes, Issaquena, Sunflower and Washington.
“Copper thieves are stripping irrigation systems and buildings costing farmers and building owners tens of thousands,” said Attorney General Hood. “Due to high metal prices, metal of any kind, from cars on the side of the road to implements in the field, is being stolen at an alarming rate. I appreciate my colleagues in Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee joining me to discuss the issue and formulate workable law enforcement initiatives and create contacts among law enforcement agencies and farmers in our four states.”
Intergovernmental cooperation is important because thieves often cross county and state lines to sell stolen metal.
“Thieves who strip copper from irrigation systems are causing devastating property damage that can be crippling to our farmers,” said Attorney General McDaniel. “It is critical that the states in our region strategize collaboratively to prevent this crime. I’m fortunate to already have strong working relationships with the attorneys general in Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana. I think today’s meeting was very constructive and will surely lead to progress in apprehending copper thieves.”
Mississippi and Arkansas are using a statewide electronic reporting system created by LeadsOnline called the Metal Theft Investigations System. The system allows law enforcement and metal recyclers to share information and track suspicious scrap metal sales.
Tennessee is also grappling with copper theft.
“In Tennessee, scrap metal dealers register with and are regulated by the Department of Commerce and Insurance,” said Tennessee Attorney General Cooper. “We continue to be concerned about the theft and sale of scrap metal and are happy to share information and ideas with authorities in neighboring states to curb this nationwide problem.”
Louisiana Attorney General James D. “Buddy” Caldwell echoed the other AGs’ concerns.
“The theft of copper from refrigeration units, air conditioners, and irrigation systems has become an epidemic,” Attorney General Caldwell said. “And it could get worse as metal prices go higher. We four AGs in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana are joining forces to crack down on the ease with which copper thieves operate. I’ve never seen cooperation across state lines this good which means citizens in our region will see better protection.”