Copper Wiring Traded For Crack

Task Force Helps Catch Copper Thieves

MIAMI - Copper thieves are getting bolder, but the metal that can be sold for cash at scrapyards may be making its first stop on the streets and traded for crack cocaine.

In recent months, thieves have stolen copper wiring from South Florida churches, businesses and even from street lights, in hopes of making a quick buck.

Miami-Dade County has created a task force to help legitimate buyers and sellers catch copper crooks.

"We now have systems in place where we have to ask for fingerprints, we have to get pictures. We take a picture of the material. We do more than what a bank does," said scrapyard owner Van Kono.

The Scrap Dragon is a computer program used to document a seller. It asks for driver's license information and proof of ownership. It's also linked to the police. The program has been effective for Mark Kram and his family's 40-year-old scrapyard business. . "It has been wonderful because we know help stop this theft," Kram said.

Scrapyard owners also say that in addition to creating the task force, the county needs to shut down scrapyards and crack houses where copper wiring is sometimes traded for crack cocaine.

"Whether it's a copper aluminum coil or insulation, it can be sold at night to bootleggers who are open from 9 o'clock at night to 3 in the morning," Kono said.

Police say they don't want to hurt legitimate buyers and sellers. That's why they're hoping that by enlisting their help they can put an end to this crime.

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