I would like to take a moment to let our citizens know about a new initiative we are implementing to combat metal theft.
Metal theft is a major part of our community's crime. At one point, metal theft was responsible for 35 percent of all property crime being committed within the City of Conyers. There has been some respite in recent weeks as the prices of copper dipped to around $2 a pound.
Criminals are stealing whole air conditioning units and dismantling them to recover the copper components. These thieves are destroying $2,000 to $3,000 air conditioners for $90 to $100 of copper. Thieves are also going into vacant homes and cutting all of the copper out of the home. Some of these burglaries have resulted in nearly $10,000 in damage for $100 of copper. This has been a huge problem with some of the vacant houses that are in our community.
These crimes happen at all hours of the day but frequently happen during broad daylight. People who witnessed some of these thefts say that they did not realize that a theft was occurring but rather thought someone was conducting a service repair. The thieves sell the metal at a metal recycling center. The law requires the recycler to record their customer's identification and tag number. The recyclers attempt to cooperate with law enforcement, but they do such a high volume of business that it is sometimes difficult for them to help us.
Our efforts to date have met with some success. We have used surveillance officers and have deployed surveillance cameras in areas with vacant homes and in industrial areas. This has been effective, and we have been able to solve several cases.
We are extremely optimistic about a new strategy we are implementing. Our Community Outreach Unit and our Criminal Investigation Division are working together on this project. The Community Outreach officer is working with neighborhoods to begin neighborhood watch programs. The more eyes we have looking for suspicious behavior, the better off we all are. The detectives then meet with the residents and obtain waivers to mark their air conditioner unit. Once the waiver is obtained, the detectives open up the air conditioner unit and spray paint the copper neon blue. Once the unit is reassembled, a bright colored sticker is attached to the air conditioner warning potential thieves that the metals in the unit have been marked by the police for future identification. The area recyclers are familiar that we are marking the metal and know to notify us if any is brought in for sale. We are implementing the project neighborhood by neighborhood and will eventually have it city wide including in the commercial districts.
Any residents who wish to participate in this program are encouraged to contact Detective Sergeant Ken Swift at (770) 929-4204 or Sergeant Peggy Dunn at (678) 374-5603.