At Graham Iron & Salvage just north of Hwy. 380 on Colorado St. in Graham, Adrian Ligon backs his black, 4-door pick-up truck to one of the many conical piles of old scrap metal in the lot. He's got a big load of metal in the trailer, and a tractor outfitted with a large magnet begins picking up large pieces of scrap metal from the back of his truck and then dropping them onto a pile of metal right behind him.
Ligon brought the metal to Graham Iron & Salvage after gathering it from his parents farm as part of an overall clean-up effort of their property. He says that there are strict guidelines for selling scrap metal at Graham Scrap Iron.
“They took my driver's license, and they took a picture of my truck,” Ligon said. These actions are carried out by the people running Graham Iron & Salvage as part of a joint effort with local law enforcement, and they serve to discourage people with stolen scrap metal from selling to Graham Iron & Salvage.
Christina Thomas is a self-described office worker at Graham Iron & Salvage, and she says that the salvage depot is going above and beyond what the law demands regarding information they require from their customers.
“We do work with the local law enforcement, both the sheriff's office and the police department,” Thomas said. “If there are any individuals that they are looking after, or anyone that we deem suspicious, such as somebody coming in, they're not working and they have a backpack full of copper; that will set off an alarm with us.”
Thomas said that she sends to local law enforcement a copy of the purchase ticket of anyone suspected to be peddling illegally stolen scrap metal. These purchase tickets include identification information, a picture of the individual and a picture of what that individual sold. She said that this process has actually led to arrests.
“I know someone who stole some basic precious metals, and we sent (to the sheriff's office) all of the information on this person that they asked for for a certain amount of time,” Thomas related. “And I know that they've now been arrested because people have told me that they've been arrested.”
Because of a growing crime trend that shows no sign of slowing down, namely that of copper and scrap metal theft, many Young County residents are not convinced that the policies carried out by Graham Iron & Salvage are doing anything to diminish area theft. Several residents, including local real estate broker Herb Cohen, are calling for the city to establish a policy requiring permits be acquired from the Graham Police Station in order to sell scrap metal.
As far as he sees it, no criminal with a record wants to go to the police station for anything, even if it means finding other ways of making money. Cohen, a three-time victim of the crime, has been to three city council meetings in a row, the most recent meeting on Oct. 24, where each time he pleaded with the council to do something about the problem of metal theft. At the Oct. 24 meeting, Mayor Barry White told Cohen that the council would see what they could do.
Read the entire story in this weekend's edition of the Graham Leader.