Brady Mills, ISRI’s director of law enforcement outreach, frequently packs his luggage for trips to visit the law enforcement community, where he distributes flyers and presents PowerPoints. This week, he’s in Deadwood, S.D., to speak to members of the Mid-States Organized Crime Information Center® (MOCIC) at their conference. Last week, he was in Las Vegas at the International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA) training conference. The topic stays the same: materials theft and how to prevent it.

Mills says typically 300 or so people in law enforcement attend events like these, from all over the U.S. and Canada, and sometimes south of the U.S.-Mexico border. “One gentleman came to our IACA booth with an interpreter because he had questions,” Mills says. At the IACA conference, Roger Young, director of loss prevention at SA Recycling, joined Mills in the booth. “Roger comes from a law enforcement background, and in his current position he was able to answer a lot of questions,” Mills explains. “We had a lot of traffic through the booth, a lot of good questions—mostly on catalytic converter theft.”

In addition to trends in materials theft, law enforcement agencies learn more about ISRI, its members, and the recycling industry. “Crime analysts are a good resource, and IACA is definitely a good resource for ISRI members,” Mills says, noting that analysts are the people at many agencies who are responsible for issuing materials theft alerts.

ISRI’s outreach to prevent metals theft includes two powerful online resources. StopMetalsTheft.org gives law enforcement, prosecutors, lawmakers, and recyclers free information about the problem of materials theft, what states have done to address it, and other success stories. ScrapTheftAlert.com, which requires that users register to gain access, allows users to submit and receive alerts about suspicious materials.

An important tool that police and prosecutors use to share alerts is the Justice Department-funded Regional Information Sharing Systems (RISS) program. RISS is composed of six regional centers (MOCIC is one) and a tech support center. RISS works regionally and on a nationwide basis to respond to the unique crime problems of each region while strengthening the country’s information sharing environment. More than 9,400 local, state, federal, and tribal law enforcement and public safety agencies are RISS members. The New England State Police Information Network® (NESPIN) is another RISS sharing center that Mills has spoken to on behalf of ISRI members.

In 2017, ISRI became a RISS service provider, so alerts from ScrapTheftAlert.com can be shared on the RISS network.

Once a report is submitted to ScrapTheftAlert.com, the system searches U.S. and Canadian postal codes within 100 miles of the theft location, and sends an email to all subscribers in that radius. The site administrator can expand the radius when warranted. “It depends on the type of materials that were stolen. Something that is readily identifiable, or if the dollar amount justifies it, or if it was on a trailer, and is mobile,” Mills explains. Alerts posted to the website remain active for 30 days. After 14 days, the sender receives a request for feedback on the alert. Law enforcement officers may search and view all alerts in the system regardless of whether they are active or archived.

For more information about metals theft, and efforts underway to address it, contact Mills or Danielle Waterfield, ISRI’s chief policy officer.

Photo courtesy of Kindel Media on Pexels.

Dan Hockensmith

Dan Hockensmith

I'm a native Ohioan who since 2014 has called Maryland home. My background includes print, broadcast, and digital journalism; government contracting; marketing communications; and nonprofit advocacy.