Baltimore County police form metal theft task force

May 14, 2012|By Peter Hermann

Baltimore County police are announcing today a new task force to combat the growing problem of metals theft that his hitting homeowners and businesses throughout the region.

The Metal Thefts Team is being called the area’s first law enforcement group dedicated to investigating the thefts, which include everything from ripping copper gutters off homes to breaking into Baltimore Gas and Electric facilities and taking electronic devices.

The president of BGE, Ken DeFontes, is expected to join Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Police Chief Jim Johnson at the announcement, at a BGE training center in White Marsh.

In March, Baltimore County police used a Global Positioning Device attached to a silver Honda to trace suspects stealing metal from four cellphone towers in Parkton, Woodstock and Sparks, after a homeowner in Pikesville videotaped them trying to steal a statue from a neighbor.

And in December, homeowners in Homeland and elsewhere in North Baltimore reported a spate of copper gutter thefts, which are expensive to replace. One homeowner invested in an expensive security and lighting system for his yard.

Lawmakers in Annapolis have updated laws to try and combat the problem, but police say too many loopholes still exist. Baltimore County was one of the first jurisdictions in the state to rquire metal dealers to report transactions to authorities.

Alread barred from resale are items such as catalytic converters, cemetery urns, tree grates, water meters, street signs, guardrails, light poles and grave markers. And dealers are required to keep records of every transaction and “hold” questionable items, such as decorative pieces, to give police time to track them if they are stolen.

Such record keeping helped a couple living near Pikesville to get back two primate statues stolen in December, and one of their neighbors to get back her statue of a ballerina.

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