Business owner Mike Strickland said moving from the location he has been in since 1956 is not an option, but repeated thefts are shrinking his profits.
“We’ve done so many different things as far as increasing our security measures because as soon as we see them trying to enter our property one way, we put up a barrier to prevent that, but they find another way to get in and then we put up another barrier to prevent that. It is an ongoing thing,” said Strickland, owner of Mike’s Performance & Machine Shop at 1300 S. Wesleyan Blvd. “Every time something happens we try something different, but I don’t know what else we can do to prevent it. It is one of those things where I feel like I’m beating my head against a wall sometimes.”
According to police reports, thieves cut the fence around Strickland’s property in January then fled with more than $15,000 of equipment and parts. No arrests have been made.
“We remanufacture engines and engine parts, so everything we’ve got is a junker’s haven,” Strickland said. “The sad part is what they are stealing is good parts, but they are selling it for scrap. It is just a bad situation.”
Strickland said thieves frequently break into his business to the point where he rarely reports it to police. He said the thefts make getting business insurance impossible. He said he has asked police to increase patrols around his business, but he also has resorted to spending restless nights watching his business from nearby.
“I work too hard for what I got,” he said.
In October, new legislation went into effect that puts more regulations on businesses that buy scrap metal – especially copper – after thefts similar to those at Strickland’s business were common across the state.
“There are three major points to the new regulations,” said Nash County Sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Pair. “In a nutshell, they can no longer offer cash for copper but use a check or a check card system instead. Sellers must present a valid ID and a picture must be taken of the person bringing in recyclables and what they are selling.”
Recyclers also must keep records of all metal transactions, which can be inspected by law enforcement at any time.
“By state law, anytime any law enforcement officer goes in, they should have their records available,” Pair said. “There is no set time to know we are coming though. We mostly do impromptu, random checks.”
Neither Pair nor Rocky Mount police Cpl. Mike Lewis knew of any complaints about recyclers not following regulations or had any problems with those currently permitted in the area. Lewis added that owners should add identifiable marks to their metals in case of a theft.
“Any time they can mark their items with special identifiers it’ll help us track stolen items,” Lewis said. “A lot of bulk items don’t have serial numbers, so if they put their own mark on items, it helps us track those items if they are stolen.”
Pair said the longer the legislation is in place, the easier it will be for law enforcement to identify recyclers who are not abiding by the legislation.
“The strict compliance with these rules and getting business owners to be more proactive and cracking down on it will make a dent in these types of crimes,” Pair said. “We don’t want to take away these recycler’s business, but they need to be legitimately operated.”
Law enforcement urged all residents and business owners to report all crimes and any suspicions about recycling companies not abiding by the law to local officials or Crime Stoppers at 977-1111 or crimestoppers@ rockymountnc.gov.