Busy thieves target Spokane businesses for recyclable metal




Posted on April 22, 2014 at 9:16 PM

SPOKANE, Wash.--Spokane police said they were seeing more burglars going to recycling centers to sell anything they could for drug money in April.

Police compared the recyclers to thieves who steal copper. They said the suspects need money for their drug habit and are desperate to steal items such as recyclable metal to get their fix.

The owner of two Brown Bear Car Wash locations in Spokane reported someone stealing two metal grates in April. The owner caught the suspect and his car on camera using surveillance video.

Employees at Pacific Steel and Recycling noticed someone bringing in grates and other items and thought the man was suspicious. Police were at the location when the suspect returned with more items.

“The police officer just happened to be there talking to the recycler, getting information from them, when he pulled up with another round of recycling products,” said Officer Teresa Fuller with the Spokane Police Department.

Police said it is one way for criminals with an addiction to try and get money.

They were looking to businesses like Pacific Steel and Recycling to help them look out for anyone who might steal a recyclable item.

READ: Serial recycler arrested for stealing equipment from car wash

"This was the recycler calling in and saying, ‘this is suspicious activity. Maybe you guys should come check it out,’” said Fuller.

Officers expected the trend to continue and asked residents and businesses to get as much evidence as they could to help find potential suspects.

"If we have something we can follow up on, a license plate, surveillance video, anything like that, that will help our investigation immensely,” said Fuller.

The man arrested in this case, Norman Sterns, was booked into jail on charges of burglary and trafficking stolen property.