One Martinez Business, Six Others Charged With Illegally Purchasing Stolen Metal

District Attorney Mark Peterson announced Wednesday that seven businesses were identified in the multi-agency sting operation.

Seven junk dealers, including one in Martinez and one in Concord, will be charged with illegally purchasing stolen copper and other metals, District Attorney Mark Peterson announced Wednesday.

The sting operation was conducted by a multi-agency task force headed by the DA’s office, and included Martinez, Concord, Pittsburg and Richmond police departments, BART, the Highway Patrol, the FBI, and state and county environmental agencies.

The seven businesses charged in the operation are:

  • VV Recycling, 3440 Pacheco Blvd, Martinez;
  • Pleasant Hill Recycling, 1320 Galaxy Way, Concord;
  • Pittsburg Recycling Center, 181 Clark Ave., Pittburg;
  • Christenson Recycling Center, Inc., 1501 Loveridge Rd., Pittsburg;
  • R.E.N., 255 Parr Blvd., Richmond;
  • SIMS Group USA Corporation, 600 South 4th St., Richmond, and;
  • Action Metal Recycling, Inc., 385 Pittsburg Ave., Richmond. 

Peterson said that a total of seven metal recycling operations were targeted in a sting operation, in which agents offered copper wiring and other material used almost exclusively by railroads, BART, PG&E and other agencies to the recyclers, who purchased them without first verifying where they came from, as required by law.

“A six month undercover operation was set up to determine whether local recyclers were accepting stolen metals and whether they were also complying with California laws,” Peterson said. “We can verify that materials consistent with stolen metals were located at numerous sites.”

Businesses as well as individual owners can be charged with criminal and civil violations, he added, including receipt of stolen property, making false statements in records, criminal conspiracy and more.

Going after the thieves themselves was proving to be difficult, so Peterson said it was decided to go after the businesses that provide a place for the thieves to sell their stolen goods.

“The goal of this operation is to cut off the profit centers for the thieves and force the junk dealers and recyclers to comply with state law,” he said. “Any company or individual who has been found to have knowingly sold or purchased stolen metals, or turned a blind eye to whether the property purchased is stolen, and is profiting from these illegal purchases, will be prosecuted.”

Jed June 21, 2012 at 01:33 PM
This is just the "tip of the iceburg".....
Jed June 21, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Where there is money to be had and the economy (still) in the toilet, thieves will go great lengths to make a buck off of anybody, anything, any way they can (and will be more bold about it, take greater chances and hurt more people). Engard!
Patrick J. McNamara June 21, 2012 at 03:02 PM
It's about time. My cynical side wonders if these law enforcement agencies set up the sting because the crime victims are principally public agencies and big utilities. Still, I'm happy to see action. Now to initiate that infinitely less expensive "bait bike" sting that I discussed with the Martinez Police Chief a few years back.
Bill Schilz June 21, 2012 at 03:22 PM
I am so glad they're doing this. Stealing copper wire and other metal objects has gotten out of control. The new Veterans Hall in Danville had to delay their opening for three months as thieves stole copper wire. The wire was cut in such a way that it couldn't be sliced or salvaged, so it cost them another $30,000 and 3 months delay. We wouldn't have a problem like this if metal recyclers wouldn't accept this stuff! I hope they throw the book at them!!!
Summer Hemphill June 21, 2012 at 04:38 PM
SIMS/USA is a multi-national scrapmetal business based in Austrailia & has policies in place instructing their employees to identify & refuse to buy any scrapmetal that they believe may be stolen. This isn't as easy as one might think as copper wire for example after being stripped & cut up is virtually impossible to be traced to it's source. Unlike the old days of anonymous customers & cash payments California law demands that those selling scrapmetal record the seller's identification info & pay by check. As the largest processor of scrap metal in the world SIMS/USA has no need or desire to purchase stolen scrap metal & has always cooperated with law enforcement investigations of this costly problem. The shear volume of scrapmetal handled (50,000 metric tons per month shipped overseas) no doubt makes this a difficult task. I believe that this is an aberration & that SIMS/USA will be fully exonerated of duplicity when all the facts are known. As a former employee of their predecessor Levin Metals/Richmond Terminal I can tell you that this problem is as old as the scrapmetal business & has only worsened as the price of non-ferrous metals has skyrocketed. I remember watching from my office window as two guys with a streetlight poll on a shopping cart were trying to negotiate a 90 degree turn in an intersection criss-crossed with train tracks on their way to make their fortune. They were turned away of course,but it was hilarious to watch the industrious bastards.
Chris Kapsalis June 21, 2012 at 05:00 PM
I just took in some recycables the day before this article came out, I think Monday or Tuesday. I also bought a couple brass candle holders, ( I hope it is the same place,m the recycling center on Pachaco? Anyway, yes it is getting bad/ Someone tried to steel my froun t windshiled off my truck about 2 months ago, and a month before that someone drove in here and took off with a large metal t frame, that they probably got 3 bucks for, but would cost me $200 to replace. Not too happy with theives to put it lightly.
Anne Mobley June 23, 2012 at 04:37 PM
We had 800 feet of welding lead stolen. We only replaced 200 feet of that and it cost us almost $800. We hope they do throw the book at the culprits. Like prostitution, going after the girls and not the johns is only the tip of the iceburg. We need to round up the thieves too. Prepared metal is worth more so the coating needs to be stripped off the wire and needs to be in three foot lengths. It is impossible to tell where it comes from. If people bring in large amounts of wire, it is obviously stolen. They need to stop taking it unless they can document where it comes from. Almost no one gets rid of copper wire because it is usable for something. Duh!!
Billy Inman June 26, 2012 at 03:02 AM
There are good companies and bad companies
Dumpster Diva July 11, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Most recycling companies have very strict policies in place as Summer mentioned. If the place suspects the metal is stolen, they will put a 3- 5 day hold on issuing a check. Drivers licenses ,license plates and video are used to identify thieves. Most of these recycling companies work with the police. It's just not as easy as one thinks to identify everything that comes through.
Chris Kapsalis July 11, 2012 at 02:27 PM
The place that was cited always checked my DL and also noted what I was recycling there. I can imagine it is hard though, without serial numbers etc. However, a brand new big roll of copper wire and other things are huge red flags and that is a good policy to have. I saw a guy drive in here and steel my large metal T pole for a job, wieghed about 100 pounds, threw it in his truck and left. I called pd. He probably got $10 for it and it cost me $200 to replace. So I have ZERO tollerence or sympathy for these theives.


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