Copper theft sparks warning to companies
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia State Police are warning manufacturers to review security procedures after two men posing as contractors drove out of a plant with two tons of stolen scrap copper.
Workers at the Constellium Rolled Products Plant in Ravenswood did not suspect the men were thieves. They even loaded the copper onto the men's pickup truck, Trooper C.A. May said.
"If these guys can get in and do this by simply posing as contractors, then I'd say other places should be extra cautious," May said. "I think they should be leery and probably step up their security a bit."
Constellium regularly sells scrap copper known as copper chops that are left over from its alloy production and maintenance activities. It's not unusual for contractors and trucking companies to visit the plant to pick up the metal.
One of the suspects told the security guard at the plant's gate that he was supposed to pick up an order. He was given a pass into the plant after he used a fake license and identification on plant security forms.
The security guard told police that he saw only one man. Investigators believe the other man was hiding in the truck, May said.
Once they were on the plant grounds, they went to one of the cast houses and told employees they were picking up scrap copper.
"The foreman there said they looked like typical contractors they work with," May said. "The workers thought that's what they were there for, so they loaded it in the back of the vehicle."
After workers filled the truck's bed with scrap copper, the men left the plant.
"They were pretty loaded -- it was squatting the truck," May said.
Workers told police that the only thing odd about the men was their hats, which differed in style from the hard hats everyone is required to wear inside the plant's gates.
"They said it was in the shape of a coal miner hat," May said.
A Constellium spokeswoman declined to comment on the theft.
May said plant security officers contacted several metal recyclers in West Virginia and surrounding states after the theft occurred Friday afternoon.
"It'll be hard to get rid of it," she said." If we get word out, all those recycling places aren't going to touch it."