(Memphis, TN) Apr 14 - "The theft of copper from refrigeration units, air conditioners, and irrigation systems has become an epidemic," says Louisiana Attorney General James D. 'Buddy' Caldwell, "and could get worse as metal prices go higher. We four Attorneys General in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana are joining forces to crack down on the ease with which copper thieves operate. I've never seen cooperation across state lines this good which means citizens in our region will see better protection."
About 30 members of all four A.G. offices and others from sheriff's offices and agriculture departments met in Memphis today to discuss new ways in which law enforcement can crackdown on thieves selling copper across state lines. Assistant Louisiana Attorney General Kurt Wall and Louisiana AG Investigator Mike Thompson represented Louisiana at the forum.
"The conference was extremely beneficial in enabling us to interact with law enforcement across our four-state region," explains Wall. "We are working together not just to share information on criminals but also on legislative remedies and enforcement tactics. Louisiana is in pretty good shape regarding statutes and enforcement but we will further deter metal thefts with this kind of cooperation."
Several bills in all four state legislatures seek to tighten restrictions on copper and other scrap metal sales. All four attorneys general agree cooperation is the key.
· Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel: "Thieves who strip copper from irrigation systems are causing devastating property damage that can be crippling to our farmers. It is critical that the states in our region strategize collaboratively to prevent this crime."
· Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood: "Due to high metal prices, metal of any kind, from cars on the side of the road to implements in the field, is being stolen at an alarming rate. I appreciate my colleagues in Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee joining me to discuss the issue, formulate workable law enforcement initiatives and create contacts among law enforcement agencies and farmers in our four states."
· Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper: "Scrap metal dealers here register with and are regulated by the Department of Commerce and Insurance. We are happy to share information and ideas with authorities in neighborhood states to curb this nationwide problem."
"Just as in our creation of the Fugitive Apprehension Unit that also shares information across state lines," adds Caldwell, "we are at the forefront of this initiative to further strengthen our ties with other law enforcement. Our office is working in every way we can to make Louisiana a safer place."
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