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Published January 10, 2013, 05:47 PM

Area businesses ramping up security to prevent metal theft

Moorhead, MN (WDAY TV) - Metal theft has risen more than 80% in recent years as scrap metal prices reach all-time highs. A Moorhead company has ramped up security after seven burglaries in the past year costing them tens of thousands of dollars.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Moorhead, MN (WDAY TV) - Metal theft has risen more than 80% in recent years as scrap metal prices reach all-time highs. A Moorhead company has ramped up security after seven burglaries in the past year costing them tens of thousands of dollars.

For Aevenia, Inc. President Michael Hanson, enough is enough.

Michael Hanson – Aevenia President: "We have not seen the frequency that we have this past year."

In the past year, thieves have broken into the company's Moorhead facility seven times.

They are after the valuable metal inside, like copper and iron. Aevenia has lost $35,000 dollars’ worth of metal from the facility - not to mention more thefts at job sites.

Michael Hanson: "It's difficult and frustrating. Take an example on a job site - if we lose a spool or some amount, we may not have a replacement there. We've got down time where our people can't continue working while we replace that. You have the cost itself."

A piece of scrap copper is worth about $5, but a big spool is worth $400. The high price of scrap metal has driven metal thefts up 80% in recent years.

Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist says his office receives weekly reports of theft attempts.

Sheriff Bill Bergquist – Clay County: "They're getting pretty gutsy too, where they'll take a saw and cut power cables, you know, large power cables."

To protect these products from further burglaries, Hanson has bulked up the security fence and added cameras to monitor activity inside and outside the building.

Michael Hanson: "Hopefully, we can curtail it, because it is a growing problem in frequency and in amount."

At least $900 million dollars are lost nationwide each year to the growing theft of high-priced metals. U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar recently proposed the Metal Theft Prevention Act of 2012 to crack down on metal thieves.

The bill would make it a federal crime to steal metal from critical infrastructure, and would include a "do-not-buy" provision for stolen metal.

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