- Tennessee has become part of the Mississippi Delta Agricultural Theft Task Force, joining Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi. The group was formed to crack down on stolen farm equipment being sold for scrap, as reported by the Hattiesburg American.
- The Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office started the task force in April 2016 and runs an early alert system using information from the investigation system LeadsOnline. Scrap metal dealers are among the 30,000 businesses from around the country that report transactions on the system.
- By using this information in cooperation with farmers, recyclers and law enforcement, it can be easier to track down stolen equipment that is resold or sometimes stripped for valuable materials such as copper.
Stolen copper has been a multistate priority since at least 2014 when the attorneys general of these four states met to discuss the issue and Arkansas followed that by creating a scrap metal theft prevention program in 2015. According to the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, 30% of farm crimes in 2015 were related to equipment theft.
For farmers that have many acres of land with limited staff it can be nearly impossible to monitor their properties at all times. Seasonal equipment may not get looked at for months. Everything from wiring to full pieces of equipment are popular targets that can be worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Copper theft has been an issue throughout the country, particularly in cities with large swaths of abandoned buildings such as Detroit, though recyclers aren't always engaged in preventing it in such a high profile fashion. As seen in California's ongoing efforts to crack down on container redemption fraud, these types of programs can't deter people entirely but can yield big results.