Jan 19, 2012

Scrapping Allentown's History

The following communication is from a center city homeowner, irate over a recent theft from his property.
The fleecing of our city.
Copper and brass hardware has been disappearing from homes all over the region for a few years now.Gutters, flashing, pipes and wiring are all subject to a new form of recycling.There is a cadre of crack heads and thieves daily casing our streets and alleyways looking for anything of value not tied down and watched. They drive around in old junk trucks and beat up vans searching back yards for booty.This behavior has ratcheted up over the last several months to stealing iron and steel goods.
I have had three cellar window sidewalk grates stolen in the past two months. These grates have been in place for at least the twenty five years I have lived here in Allentown.The grates weigh maybe fifteen pounds each - worth five dollars? BUT more like five hundred dollars to replace.The local salvage yards talk the talk about recovering materials stolen from many properties.
The truth is that these scrap yards are fences.They happily pay for stolen goods.I went to three scrap yards here in town looking for my property.All three yards were totally acquainted with the fact that a new bunch of criminals are stealing metal items and disposing of them for cash at their businesses.One asked for my name, but the other two just feigned concern while rolling their eyes. They all asked if I had reported the theft to the police. I did.The yard that asked for my name allowed me to look at the scrap steel they purchased that day, but the other yards refused to let me look for my property.
This should be a criminal offense called "receiving stolen property".The truth is that the thieves working our streets are not mining a legal claim.The yards buying the scrap crush and dispose of it daily - rendering any stolen property untraceable.
Materials located on any property, private or public, belong to some one.It is illegal to enter onto any property and take anything without asking, or without purchasing said materials.Anyone doing business, especially daily business, with these establishments should be showing proof of ownership for all the goods and materials they intend to sell.
The scrap yards accepting and buying metals are complicit with the robbers.

Over the years I photographed some of the scrap yards and know a few of the owners. They are, for the most part, fairly large businesses, with regular clients. I'm sure occasionally, all of them get snookered into buying something stolen, but I do not believe it's fair to characterize them as fences. I also have known some pickers, who are incredibly hard working, honest men. Recently, someone was arrested for stealing the copper downspouts from at least 73 houses in the west end. When someone steals something from your house it's very unpleasant. If it's an older house, with essentially irreplaceable features, it seems even more crass.

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