COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The Columbus Copper Theft Task Force says people typically steal catalytic converters, or AC Units for copper but rarely do they see thieves steal copper straight from construction sites.
According to police, that's just what happened Wednesday in Columbus.
Police agencies are partnering together with local organizations to bring justice to a crime that they say threatens the development and revitalization of Columbus.
"It's a domino effect of what it does to a neighborhood," said Seth Brown, who helped spearhead the task force.
Brown also says the force is standing in unity to find the person responsible for stealing nearly $4,000 of copper from the Front Avenue construction site.
Despite this large loss, the Copper Theft Task Force reports copper thefts are down 49 percent in Columbus.
The task force is made up of multiple agencies including the mayor's office, sheriff's office, marshal's office, Columbus Police Department, real estate agents and recycling companies.
"We work in cooperation with recyclers they have been really good about working hand in hand with us," said Brown.
Mark Kamensky, president of the Columbus family-owned company E.J Knight Recycling, says he heard about the theft and his staff has their eyes open for anything that seems suspicious.
"Our sales people request a government issued ID, they photograph the copper that is tendered for sale, we pay according to the current regulations which requires a check payment," Kamensky said.
Kamensky says it's not a standard practice in the state of Georgia to help eliminate the illegal materials coming in and out of the recycling companies.
Due to efforts of the Columbus Copper Theft Task Force, Brown says copper theft of any degree is now considered a felony.
Local businesses have cooperated in their efforts to crack down on these types of crimes by issuing checks to people selling copper instead of cash, which discourages criminals and creates a paper trail for those who are still bold enough to perpetrate the system.
"We are really sad to see this type of incident occur. We really like to see Columbus grow in a positive matter so certainly we plan to follow the laws and apprehend the criminals if they come here," said Kamensky.
If you have any information on this case you are urged to contact crime stoppers at (706) 653-3188.