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William H. Darling Jr., 37, was sentenced last Tuesday in Kent County Circuit Court after he was convicted of larceny between $1,000 and $20,000, according to local news reports. Prosecutors said he stole a forklift valued at $15,000 from Printech Instant Ads, in Wyoming, Michigan, last September. He then allegedly sold the forklift to a Grand Rapids salvage yard for $1,500.
Darling was captured by police after a business owner in Ottawa County saw him leaving a job site with his forklift. Besides a year in jail, he also was placed on probation for five years and ordered to pay $29,000 in restitution.
Because they are made of steel and other valuable metals, forklifts and forklift parts that can be quickly resold in scrap metal yards is on the rise. Given their heavy weight and the rising price of iron, they make an ideal target for some scrap metal thieves.
Scrap Metal Theft Popular
While not all scrap metal thieves are daring enough to attempt to steal a multi-ton forklift in broad daylight, the theft of metal objects from copper pipes to manhole covers is on the rise.
In fact, in Michigan a new state law now requires scrap metal dealer to photograph scrap metal that is brought to them for sale. The idea is to make it less attractive for scrap metal thieves.
Yet with the price of copper rising and scrap metal dealers paying about 8 cents per pound for iron, there is still a motivation for thieves.
Forklift Parts Targeted
Iron parts from forklifts also make a good target for scrap metal thieves. Because of their heavy weight, the can fetch a hefty payout from scrap metal dealers.
But a pair of thieves in Tacoma, Washington, learned the hard way that selling stolen forklift parts for scrap metal doesn’t pay.
Steve Glucoft, general manager of Calbag Metals, said a pair of men sold forklift parts at his scrap metal yard last September. When workers learned that the parts had been stolen, they called police.
Investigators reviewed surveillance videos and identified the men. And the next time they showed up to the scrap metal yard to sell their wares, employees stalled the pair until police could arrive.
Valuable Scrap Metal Targeted
Towns, counties and even utility companies also have been targeted by scrap metal thieves.
Officials from Michigan’s Consumers Energy report that over the past several years theft from their substations has increased considerably. And the Michigan Department of Transportation has reported copper thefts from its facilities in the Detroit area.