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Every day all over the country, law enforcement officers are getting calls from scrap yard owners due to being robbed, or sold stolen scrap pieces. Scrap metal is a prime target for thieves looking to make a quick dollar. For example, in early 2017, $500,000 worth of scrap metal was stolen from various businesses in Cleveland, Ohio.


Scrap and copper thefts are unfortunately common and could cost your company thousands of dollars. Protecting your business means getting proactive and taking measures to make your business less of a target. In this article, we discuss what’s at risk and what you can do about it.

Prime Targets for Scrap Metal Thieves

When thieves go to get scrap metal they are looking for a quick profit. They look for what is the easiest to find, easiest to retrieve, and the easiest to sell for the highest price. That is why copper, aluminum, and stainless steel are such frequent targets. They are easier to steal in large qualities, and you can get a decent price when selling them (especially copper).  


If you’re overseeing security in a scrap yard, you need to be aware these metals are the prime targets, with copper being foremost among them.

fence locked

How to Protect Your Business from Receiving Stolen Metals

If police retrieve stolen property from your scrap yard, they will not reimburse the money you paid the thieves, so you need to protect yourself from buying stolen property. Protecting against scrap theft is a team effort. That team effort is more effective when everyone is sharing information. Start by taking a picture of all metal received, to keep a record of purchases and deter people who don’t want their transactions recorded.

Use Metal Theft Investigative System (MTIS)

When you make scrap purchases, record the seller’s information along with their driver’s license and information on the scrap they sold. Then upload that information into the Metal Theft Investigative System, also known as MTIS, a database that shares information with law enforcement allowing them to locate potentially stolen scrap quickly.


By contributing to this database, you are making it easier for police to find the stolen scrap that was sold to you. You also make it easier to find scrap stolen from you if you record the theft in MTIS. The more scrap yards and pawn shops in your area contribute to this system, the more likely it is that thieves will be caught if they steal from any of you.

Develop Positive Relations with Local Police Department

You want to build a mutually beneficial relationship with the police department. Call them when you suspect you are being sold stolen goods. Be helpful if they ever have to come to investigate any stolen property. Work with them, and their work will be more helpful to you and your business.

How to Protect Your Business from Scrap Theft

Copper wires

Secure the Valuables

First and foremost, as a business owner, you want to protect your assets. Here are a few ways to minimize risk and avoid becoming a target of scrap theft.

  • Store scrap in secure areas, either inside locked containers or buildings or in well-lit protected areas.
  • Post signs warning the area is under surveillance.
  • Make sure to use deadbolts and window locks to secure your facility.  

Deny Ingress

Part of securing the scrap involves securing the facility itself and making it harder for scrap metal thieves to get in. The harder it is to access the scrap on your property, the less attractive you’ll be as a target. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Install a fence, with barbed wire if possible.
  • Remove items that could potentially be an avenue of access, such as dumpsters, trees, and ladders.
  • Cut back trees that could be potential hiding places for scrap metal thieves.  

camera and surveillance

Utilize Surveillance

Surveillance is probably one of the most important parts of keeping your facility secure. The problem is, it does you no good if no one is watching the feed. Combing through hours of nighttime footage after you have been robbed is troublesome and time-consuming, and is not always effective. On the other hand, hiring a security guard is expensive.


Instead, opt for a virtual security guard surveillance, through a reputable provider like Pro-Vigil. Pro-Vigil can provide your business with the added security it needs, and give you the peace of mind you want.


Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to copper theft or theft of your other scrap metals. Protect your business with 24-hour security, with Pro-Vigil.