June 10, 2014
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel presented an award to the North Little Rock Police Department for its outstanding work to investigate metal theft at a news conference today to highlight the importance of law enforcement efforts to combat the crime.
McDaniel joined LeadsOnline to present North Little Rock Police Chief Mike Davis and Det. John Desizlets with the Arkansas "Golden Cat" award. The "Golden Cat" is a gold-painted catalytic converter. Those automobile parts are commonly stolen by metal thieves.
Also at Tuesday's news conference, AT&T recognized the Saline County Sheriff's Department and presented a $1,000 check to Saline County resident David Steele and 1,000 dog biscuits to Steele's dog, Honey Bear. Steele alerted law enforcement officers to a theft in progress of copper communications cable owned by AT&T. The Saline County Sheriff's Department arrested the individuals responsible for the theft.
"Law enforcement agencies across the state and the North Little Rock Police Department in particular have worked effectively to reduce metal theft with the help of LeadsOnline's Metal Theft Investigations System," McDaniel said. "I am proud to join with LeadsOnline to recognize this department. As the price for metal has increased, so have thefts from cars, from utility companies and from farms. This type of crime is a significant economic burden, but we are making progress in the fight to prevent it."
LeadsOnline's statewide system allows law enforcement and metal recyclers to share information and track suspicious scrap metal sales.
Last year, the North Little Rock Police Department solved 51 cases using the system and charged 767 counts against suspected scrap metal thieves. The department's work resulted in the recovery of more than $119,000 worth of property.
Law enforcement agencies are just one line of defense against metal theft, though.
Steele was awoken in the middle of the night by his dog as thieves were in the process of stealing AT&T communications cable. Because of Steele's quick action to alert authorities regarding a copper theft in progress, the Saline County Sheriff's Department was able to make three arrests.
Ronald Dedman, AT&T Arkansas Director of External Affairs, praised Saline County law enforcement officers for their leadership in arresting those responsible for the crime. Saline County Sheriff Cleve Barfield, Lt. Ron Parsons and Det. Ronnie Schwin attended today's news conference.
"AT&T takes copper theft seriously. These are not just attacks against our network, they're attacks on the businesses operating and people living in the community who are left isolated and may be unable transact business, or in the extreme, seek help or assistance in case of an emergency," Dedman said.
"We view these as crimes against the entire community, and we continue to work with law enforcement across the state to make sure those responsible for copper theft are prosecuted."