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Windsor companies are installing cameras and barbed wire to stop scrap metal thieves

Aug 20, 2023Aug 20, 2023

A rash of metal thefts in Windsor have left some companies such as Mikhail Holdings Inc., owners of the Silver City movie theatre building, out tens of thousands of dollars. But others are taking measures to thwart the thieves.

Enwin Utilities is using a copper clad steel ground wire on their poles which is harder to cut and harder to fence.

"It's almost impossible to economically to extract the copper out of this cable," said Jim Brown, vice-president of hydro operations.

The owner of the Metal Supermarkets franchise on Walker Road is installing security cameras, has barbed wire on this fence and is employing other security measures to protect his new metal inventory.

"We've got to do our due diligence. I gotta protect my investment," said Tom Kaschalk.

Thieves are also targeting parked cars for catalytic converters. There are precious metals inside the emission control devices that fetch a lot of money.

"They get more at the scrap yards for those metals than just a regular piece of steel," said Const. Adam Young of the Windsor Police Service.

Young says it's difficult to prosecute metal thieves because even if police find them with the metal it's untraceable because the metal won't have a serial number.

Peel Regional Police recently held an event where they etched identification numbers on the catalytic converters for motorists.

Peel police help vehicle owners prevent catalytic converter theft at free event in Mississauga

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The Canadian Association of Recycling Industries (CARI) has teamed up with its US counterpart to maintain the Scrap Theft Alert website.

Companies and individuals can report thefts of metal to the website so police and potential buyers of scrap metal in that area can be on the lookout for the stolen merchandise.

Tracy Shaw, the president of CARI, says metal recyclers have policies in place to help deter thieves and mitigate theft.

"These policies include setting up seller accounts; using video cameras throughout their facilities; training staff to notify a supervisor if suspicious-looking material is brought in; and working with law enforcement," said Shaw in an email to CBC.

With regard to catalytic converters Shaw said: "The market for stolen material like catalytic converters is primarily driven by mobile dealers and online marketplace sellers. Unregulated online markets such as Facebook Marketplace offer an easy, relatively anonymous forum for selling stolen material with little to no scrutiny."

Young also suggests parking in a well lit, visible place when leaving your vehicle unattended.

Video Journalist

Dale Molnar is a video journalist at CBC Windsor. He is a graduate of the University of Windsor and has worked in television, radio and print. He has received a number of awards including an RTDNA regional TV news award and a New York Festivals honourable mention.