LMPD: Louisville copper thief causes $100,000 in damage - WDRB 41 Louisville News

LMPD: Louisville copper thief causes $100,000 in damage

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Daniel Elder (source: Louisville Metro Department of Corrections) Daniel Elder (source: Louisville Metro Department of Corrections)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Louisville man is behind bars accused of stealing thousands of dollars worth of copper from a local business.

What's even worse, police say the thief caused $100,000 worth of damage to the business.

The thefts took place over a period of a month. And despite a new high-tech law designed to catch scrap metal thieves, this suspect was nabbed by old-fashioned police work.

34-year Daniel Elder is accused of stealing some $10,000 worth of copper from the Port of Louisville.

Port officials did not want WDRB News to take pictures of the area. But police say Elder climbed a flood wall and cut copper out of a large conveyer belt, causing $100,000 worth of damage.

Police say an officer on routine patrol spotted Elder in an area he did not belong.

"[He] noticed he was in the area carrying a backpack, found some tools that were consistent with that. After further investigation we were able to pin at least four of these burglaries on Daniel Elder," said LMPD spokesman Dwight Mitchell.

Last year, Metro Council passed an ordinance designed to crack down on scrap metal theft. Despite this latest arrest, the sponsor of that ordinance says it is working.

"It's being very effective. The police are very pleased with it," said 6th District Councilman David James.

James says the ordinance requires scrap metal dealers to report transactions of controlled items, such as copper, to a central database. Authorities can then track any suspected stolen material back to the seller.

Exact figures are not yet available, but James believes the ordinance is a deterrence.

"Well, I think this is a good step towards going in the right direction. I think that people are going to start seeing that people are going to jail for doing this more than they were last year, and so that will act as a deterrent," said James.

But police say despite best efforts, stealing scrap metal will always be a temptation for those looking for fast cash.

"There's a high price to pay for copper. However we have ways of finding out who's scrapping it, where they are scrapping it, and how often they are," said Mitchell.

James believes, to be most effective, scrap metal dealers across the state, not just here in Louisville, should be required to report their sales to that database.

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