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Online database to track metal-theft sales

August 27, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
San Bernardino County Sheriff's deputies are searching for the driver of an abandoned vehicle suspected of stealing at least four fire hydrants in Rancho Cucamonga Monday morning.

The vehicle was found near the corner of Banyan Street and Raindrop Place. Deputies found tools in the vehicle that may have been used in the thefts.

The hydrants were stolen from a new area under construction. Investigators say there was no threat to public safety.

The hydrants cost about $2,500 each.

Despite being bolted tight and welded to ground pipes, thieves were still able to cut several hydrants loose.

Investigators believe the thief was after the brass metal in the hydrants. Metal thefts have been an ongoing issue for local schools, businesses and construction sites in California. But the state is hoping to crack down on these types of crimes with a new online database.

"Law enforcement, which gets a report that metal's been stolen, is going to be able to go immediately to this database and find out if there is a thief who is trying sell this to a recycler or maybe multiple recyclers," said state Assemblyman Richard Pan (D-Sacramento).

Next year pawn shop owners and recyclers will transition from paper record-keeping of daily purchases to an online database, making it easier for local law enforcement to track metal transactions.

But not everyone believes it will work.

"It looks like it is going to be a temporary thing ... it might work for a couple weeks, it might scare a few people, but after that, these people who steal, they know what they are doing," said Arthur Minasyan, City Recycling Center.

Minasyan, a local recycler, says the new regulation will add to his workload, even if it cuts down on paperwork. He's also not pleased about paying an annual $300 fee to help fund the database.

"I don't see it helping in any way, I just see it causing trouble for the business owner, which all the state seems to do is that -- just cause trouble for us," said Minasyan.

The state Department Of Justice will be operating that online database.


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