CAPE CORAL, Fla.-A team of law enforcement across Southwest Florida is going all-out to combat metal thefts, and that includes going after scrap metal dealers.
Thursday, an unannounced drop-in on one Cape Coral secondhand metal business nabbed two people police say were not keeping records like they should.
The surprise inspection is not a new concept, according to Lt. Tony Sizemore, with Cape Coral Police.
Sizemore says the practice has been used on pawnshops and other secondhand dealers during burglary investigations, but authorities are now applying it to scrap dealers.
"[Thieves] are selling it somewhere," says Sizemore.
"We want to make sure the licensed scrapyards and secondhand dealers are being legitimate and keeping up with their paperwork."
Investigators dropped in on Cape Coral scrap shop Precious Metal where a look at the business's books showed holes.
"The owner of the business was charged under the statute of showing a pattern of failure to document properly, and the employee had an instance of an undocumented sale," Sizemore says.
The owner, 58-year-old James Rains, and an employee, 33-year-old Louis Dushek, were given notice to appear in court, police say.
Both are charged with misdemeanors, but law enforcement hopes cracking down on bad records keeps businesses on the straight and narrow.
"It's to eliminate the days of 'I don't need to know who you are. I don't need to know where you got that. Here's the money, give me the metal,'" Sizemore says.
For metal-theft victims, like Donald Armstrong, whose Kiwanis Thrift Store lost an AC unit to scrap metal thieves, the new measure is a step in the right direction.
Authorities say the records inspections will be a regular occurrence.