Sting uncovers three businesses allegedly buying stolen scrap metal

COACHELLA, Calif. - Three Valley recycling businesses are facing possible charges for allegedly buying stolen metals. 

From water mains in Desert Hot springs, water values in Bermuda Dunes to fire hydrants in Palm Springs; thieves are trying to cash in on scrap metal causing thousands of dollars in damage.

"Were are having an increase in stolen fire hydrants, stolen black-flow valves, water meters and obviously it's costing businesses a lot of money and also customers," said Riverside County Sheriff  Deputy Armando Munoz.

However criminals can only profit if someone buys what they've stolen. 

"The people that are out there committing these thefts know where they can go to get money for those metals, so the problem is if they are allowing it to happen, the thefts are going to continue occurring and it going to be very difficult for us to locate the suspects," said Munoz.

Back in June Deputies visited local recycling businesses to remind them exact what they are not allowed to buy.  During a sting in January, three businesses bought prohibited metals and when investigators returned they found even more. 

"The victim end up paying the most for this, for these incidences and these thefts and the reward for those pieces of metal that the suspects are taking is not high. So it does cost the school districts, or the businesses, the water districts or whoever might be the victim it does cost them more to replace these items," said Munoz. 

So we confronted the businesses first SA Recycling in Coachella, we noticed right away, they were open for business.  The owner was not in, and we were told to leave contact information for them to call us, so far they haven't. 

G & G Private Recycle also in Coachella was located on private property.

In thermal we spoke with employees at Apple Market II, we were told the owner was also not there, but the business was up and running.

Riverside County Sheriff's Department says they are doing what they can.

"It's constantly on going because metal is always being recycled and we know that suspects are taking those metals to these facilities it's something that we try to monitor and make sure that the businesses are in compliance with the law," said Munoz.

State Assemblyman Brian Nestande believes more needs to be done.  He released this statement Friday that says in part, "Recent thefts highlight the need for additional legislation that will reduce the temptation to steal metals for scrap."

No word yet on what exactly that will entail.

We should note that these businesses have not yet been charged, but the case has been handed over to the Riverside County District Attorney's office for further investigation. 

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