Scrap recycling company helps police catch metal thieves

TACOMA -- Alert employees at a scrap recycling business helped police nab some thieves stealing from a truck company in Tacoma, police say.

“We wanted to put a reader board out front that said: This many caught this month,” joked Steve Glucoft, general manager of Calbag Metals.

He said Thursday that those working in the scrap metal business are constantly trying to figure out where the items people bring in came from.

“If you are running your business properly and have taught the people on your docks properly, you know what's stolen,” he said. “It sticks out like a sore thumb. It's when the material is altered to a state that it just looks like scrap to us.”

A couple of weeks ago, they bought some forklift parts only to find out they had been stolen from a nearby business. They checked their surveillance cameras and identified the suspects. The next time those suspects showed up, they stalled them and called police.

“Our employees use whatever measures they need. They say the cash machine is broken, or this truck broke down and you have to sit here a minute. Whatever it takes to keep the guy here.”

Glucoft said he wants to do his part, because he knows metal thieves can cause some real problems.

People stealing copper wire from street lights in Tacoma have left dozens of neighborhoods in the dark. If thieves in Marysville weren’t stopped before they tried to take the copper wire from a communications tower last month, 911 services could have been disrupted.

“It could be my backyard, it could one of my guys' backyard that somebody's stealing from,” said Glucoft. “I certainly want the police to deal with that, so if I’m not helping on my end, why would I expect them to help if it happens to me?”

He hopes more people in his industry step up their efforts to stop criminals. Otherwise, he thinks wire theft and metal theft will continue to grow.

“We have to take care of each other. If we don't, who knows how bad this could be?”