KENNEWICK, Wash. - Agencies from all over the region joined forces in Kennewick Wednesday. They were taking part in a metal theft training course.
Metal Theft Training and Consultants, LLC was in town conducting the session at the Kennewick Police Department. It was led by Terry Alling, a self-proclaimed 'copper theft cop.' He's a federal officer out of California but these trainings are his side job. He travels all over teaching other officers about these crimes.
"We teach on just about everything that law enforcement needs to know about dealing with recyclers, sting operations, what is copper, how suspects operate. How they move these items around, how they burn it, how they strip it," Alling said.
Metal theft has grown to be a major issue in central Washington but tackling the problem is another story.
"The majority of the officers that come in here know very little about it. They've dealt with it, they've heard about it, they know it's an epidemic crime and they're trying to learn," Alling said.
At Tommy's Steel and Salvage in Pasco, they're a target for these metal thieves in more ways than one.
"We get hit on both sides because people steal things and they try to bring it to us... And then also sometimes we get burglarized and stolen from," said owner Leonard Moore.
Moore said they have a good working relationship with law enforcement. At Tommy's, they don't typically know if an item is stolen but they do have preventative measures to curb the crimes.
"We make people show ID, anything over a certain amount of money we pay with a check and then on some items, we make them wait. We don't pay them right away. Up to ten days we hold it and make them come back," Moore said.
"Education is the key. You have to get educated about his. That's where you start. Because you see this stuff, you just don't know what you're seeing or how to deal with it effectively in any way. Other than treat it like everything else... And you can't," Alling said.
Metal Theft Training and Consultants, LLC has trained around 1,000 officers so far. Now they're looking into an advanced course. Training like the one Wednesday in Kennewick would count as the pre-requisite.