Posted by Phoenix Theft Crimes Attorney Nick Alcock:

There is a criminal epidemic currently sweeping the Valley and police are not taking it lightly. Metal thieves in the greater Phoenix area are swiping copper pipes, copper wiring, air conditioning units, backflow valves, or anything else with scrap value. These crimes are leaving victims with thousands of dollars in replacement and repair costs.

A spokesperson for the Peoria Police Department said “We know there is a huge segment that is stealing copper and AC parts resulting in criminal activity,”

One way police are battling to deter this threat is by teaming up. On May 31st, three police agencies deployed fifty-nine officers from Peoria, Glendale and Phoenix police departments made six felony and 26 misdemeanor arrests during a detail near several scrap metal yards near 43rd and Highland avenues in Phoenix. It was the first time the groups had teamed up. Referring to it as a “huge success,” authorities from the respective departments all believe they will team up again for something similar in the future.

The goal, however, was not designated to arrest metal thieves. “Our goal was to patrol these areas to catch anyone with traffic violations, whether it was speeding, driving a stolen car, having an outstanding warrant, driving with stolen plates,” said the police spokesperson. “The types of people who committheft fall into these categories.” Police staked the area from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. looking, “for speeders or those committing any of a number of traffic violations,” he said.

Many drivers in the area had scrap metal in their vehicle, but much of it wasn’t serialized so police were unable to determine whether the goods were stolen or not. Police did end up seizing 32 cars, many because of no license or a suspended license by the driver, and issued 227 citations.

Peoria police arrested Julio Herrera, 20, of Phoenix, after stopping him on suspicion of driving a stolen vehicle indicated by a cracked steering column and no key in the ignition. Though the vehicle wasn’t stolen, police found him in possession of a handgun with the serial number removed and marijuana. He is charged with three felonies; possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a weapon in a drug offense, and two misdemeanors, and failing to admit to carrying a deadly weapon and failure to show a driver’s license.

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