- Illegal scraping activities prompted a fire that destroyed at least 12 homes in Detroit, MI.
- Arson investigators say a scrapper attempting to lift copper pipes from an abandoned property caused an explosion which ignited flames that then quickly spread to nearby residences.
- Witnesses report a man on fire running from a vacant building. Officials located a person matching the description of the suspect, but have yet to determine where it's the same person who committed the crime.
In August, the state of Michigan announced scrappers were to blame for massive flooding that had some communities in the Detroit Metro area underwater for days. Officials blamed scrappers who stole copper piping from numerous pumping stations as the reason behind the historic floods in the region.
In March, the Michigan state House approved a bill aimed at helping law enforcement solve and prosecute metal theft cases. So far, it hasn't worked out. Scrappers actively steal from buildings in broad daylight. For instance, a manhole cover was stolen within view of the FBI building downtown, and a plethora of abandoned homes give thieves the cover they need to commit these crimes. Michigan continues to stake its claim to having one of the highest reported rates of metal theft claims in the country.
The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), a trade group that represents private and public companies involved in the scrap industry, addressed the scrapping issues by forming a group to fight scrap metal thieves. The ongoing problems are a nationwide occurrence and the industry is fighting back by working in tandem with law enforcement and prosecutors to deter crime and establish a national scrap theft reporting system to aid in the apprehension of these criminals.
The city of Detroit soon hopes to cash in on its glut of copper by scrapping its electricity lines. In October, the city announced its intention to generate revenue from its own scrap; the move has the potential to yield up to $40 million for the city.
Detroit loses a minimum of $1 million to illegal scrapping activity annually.