Valuable scrap metal has been disappearing from curbs on recycling nights and it is costing the city millions.
“People are renting U-Hauls and vans and going around the streets the night before [recycling], when people put stuff out, and they are taking it,” said Lieutenant Robert DeRossi of the Sanitation police to the New York Post.
Refrigerators, ovens and air conditioners are worth a lot of money when sold to scrap yards. Roughly, 11,000 missed scrap pickups have been reported this year.
New York City holds a contract with Sims Metal Management to recycle the metal. In return, the city gets a percentage of the money Sims earns.
Management at Sims estimates that about $4 million has been lost to theft.
The city Department of Sanitation’s police force battles scrap metal thieves by staking out locations with a lot of scrap metal recycling.
Yesterday, undercover officers spotted a curb full of metal chairs, fencing and other scrap metal on the corner of Benson Avenue and Bay 32nd Street. Then, they parked and waited.
Shortly after, a van pulled up and two men got out and loaded it full.
The officers confronted the men and issued them a $2,000 fine each, as that is the first-time offenders amount. The second time around, the fine is increased to $5,000.
“These people . . . know which streets, which days, which areas. These guys know better than us when this stuff goes out,” said one of the officers on the scene.