Overzealous Recycling By Chicago Metal Thieves

April 7, 2008

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The City of Chicago wants people to recycle metal. The city's metal thieves have taken that to heart.

Chicago aldermen worry about the future of gutters, wires, even fire hydrants, so some of them want large recyclers to track who's bringing in metal.

Chicago Police Sergeant Brian Rybka says junkyards and other dealers would demand photo ID's and write down descriptions of the scrap that's brought in. Rybka says high metal prices have become attractive to crooks.

RYBKA: People commit criminal damage and theft by stealing all these metal parts off of air conditioning, radiators, stop signs. I personally have seen thieves cut down power lines, telephone liens.

The state of Illinois requires scrap metal dealers to track sales of more than $100; Chicago's ordinance would cover all transactions. The Chicago City Council could vote on it this week.

I'm Shawn Allee, Chicago Public Radio.