Law enforcement officials are touting their efforts to combat metal theft by presenting an award to members of the North Little Rock Police Department. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said Tuesday the gold-painted commendation in the form of a commonly stolen item – a catalytic converter - is a result of the success of police use of a private electronic reporting system.
“Leads Metal Theft Investigation System gives investigators access to information about thousands of transactions in real-time. It’s an incredible tool for law enforcement and using the system Arkansas investigators ran 9,728 scrap metal searches during the first quarter of this year alone,” said McDaniel.
The North Little Rock Police Department recovered over $119,000 worth of metal last year. McDaniel said over 350 law enforcement agencies use the system along with 127 scrap metal recyclers who are reporting transactions.
Ronald Dedman with AT&T joined law enforcement officials and said theft and collateral property destruction particularly impacts the communications infrastructure.
“This year we’ve worked 50 cases of copper theft with an estimated damage of about $600,000 and last year we had over 125 cases of copper theft with an estimated damage of about $2 million so you all understand why this is of significance to us,” said Dedman.
McDaniel attributed part of the increase in information sharing to legislation co-sponsored in 2012 by Republican Representative Kim Hammer of Benton who was in attendance.
The state has previously utilized LeadsOnline in monitoring the sale of products that can be used to manufacture methamphetamine and to track pawnshop transactions.