For some criminals, stealing copper is a quick way to get cash. Mike Olejar is the General Manager at APS Recycling in Stroudsburg. He said,"Generally speaking the last few years, copper has been at record high prices." Copper goes for an average price of about $3 a pound, which doesn't seem like much, but when you have a lot of it, it really adds up.
Police say they are investigating a rash of recent copper thefts in the Poconos. Stroud Area Regional Police Captain William Parrish thinks the economy has something to do with it. He noted,"Unemployment, hard economic conditions and the price of copper," are all factors.
Parrish said the Pocono region has become attractive to copper theives for many reasons. He explained, "You have a lot of foreclosed homes, a lot of unoccupied homes, vacation homes in this area."
His department recently busted two people for stripping the copper from a Stroud Township home. They were Richard Iannazzo and Richard Vautrin. Police caught the pair trying to sell more than 100 pieces of copper at APS Recycling. The suspects didn't know APS warns police about suspicious sales. Olejar said, "Anyone that comes in is required to provide us with government issued photo ID, which we record the numbers on. We also keep a record of all the purchases made in our computer data base."
Now the police are working on their own database. They are building a computer system that will keep track of copper theft and arrest information in Monroe, Lackawanna, and Luzerne counties. That way all departments could access the same information. Parrish noted, "The criminal element doesn't recognize municipal boundaries."