DOBSON — Call it a case of good news and bad news.
The good news? According to Sheriff Graham Atkinson, the incidents of thefts of recyclable materials seems to be dropping in the county.
The bad news? The holidays are coming and deputies are bracing for an increase in the number of thefts and break-ins during the season.
After a period of rising prices for things like steel, copper and batteries at recycling centers, those prices are dropping, and Atkinson said that is directly related to the decreasing number of thefts in the area.
“The people stealing this stuff know what they’re going to do with it and where they’re going to sell it, so we believe that when the market value goes down so do the number of thefts,” he said.
Atkinson said he reviewed the past several weeks worth of incident reports, and they show a decrease in the number of metal and recyclable thefts.
“When (prices paid) go back up, we’re going to see more battery and copper thefts,” he predicted.
But that doesn’t mean they’ve ended entirely.
“Right now, we’re seeing metal thefts when they’re associated with larcenies of things like hand tools or chain saws,” he said. “Those are targeted items because they’re very hard to track and easily disposed of.”
At the moment, the incidents appear to be a “target of opportunity,” according to the sheriff.
“We’re always going to have those, but will keep an eye out on the prices being paid for these items and when they go back up we suspect we’ll see in increase in metal thefts,” he said.
Time to be careful
While the number of metal thefts is on the decline, Atkinson said this is the time of the year when consumers must be extra careful.
“We’re getting into the holiday season, and we generally see an increase in home and car break-ins this time of the year,” he warned.
According to the sheriff, consumers should be more vigilant and alert when out doing their holiday shopping.
“Be sure to put your gifts in the trunk,” he urged. “Don’t leave your pocketbook in your vehicle. Make sure your home is secure and turn on a television or radio when you leave to give it the appearance of someone being home.”
Thieves are on the lookout for targets, he added.
“We can expect that over the next few weeks we’ll see more break-ins and incidents of people stealing — either to pay for Christmas gifts or to give as Christmas gifts,” Atkinson said.
“Being extra vigilant can save a lot of problems and heartaches,” he added.
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.