Given today's price of metal, it's no wonder that scrap metal theft is still going strong. The City of Las Vegas spends hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to repair lampposts and other infrastructure after thieves have stripped them of valuable metal.
Local scrap yards are fighting back by using the latest state of the art technology.
Scott Stolberg's scrap yard is filled with old wires, car rims, and cans. "Our industry supplies 40-percent of all the raw materials that are used in manufacturing in the U.S. every year," he said.
Stolberg is the owner of AAEQ Recycling. While it's not uncommon for thieves to try and sell their stolen metal at his shop, Stolberg says it's hard to point them out. "We know where this came from. It came from an air conditioning contractor who is taking apart a lot of air conditioners. But, if somebody stole the copper of an air conditioner it's going to look the same," he said.
So Scott is fighting back by using a state of the art computer system to catch a thief. "We use a scanned copy of people's driver's licenses that actually reads the magnetic bar strip of the back of the driver's license so we have all the accurate information," he said.
Cameras take video and pictures of all the scrap metal and the sellers face. "When the transaction is completed, the person leaves an electronic version of their fingerprint that is then tied to the ticket," he said.
And to get the cash, one more picture is taken at their ATM. "It would be difficult for a thief to deny that the material that we now have wasn't his, or that he didn't sell it to us," he said.
Before the system came in, Stolberg used to do it the old fashioned way -- by writing and photocopying everything on paper and filing it away. Now they have technology on their side and thieves have no chance to hide
The system also alerts other scrap yards up to 300 miles away if material is stolen.