Seven businesses that buy scrap metal, including three in Richmond, face potential charges of illegally purchasing stolen copper and other metals, District Attorney Mark Peterson announced Wednesday.
The seven were netted in a sting operation was conducted by a multi-agency task force headed by the DA’s office, and included Contra Costa police departments, BART, the Highway Patrol, the FBI, and state and county environmental agencies.
The seven businesses indentified in the operation are:
- VV Recycling, 3440 Pacheco Blvd, Martinez;
- Pleasant Hill Recycling, 1320 Galaxy Way, Concord;
- Pittsburg Recycling Center, 181 Clark Ave., Pittburg;
- Christenson Recycling Center, Inc., 1501 Loveridge Rd., Pittsburg;
- R.E.N., 255 Parr Blvd., Richmond;
- SIMS Group USA Corporation, 600 South 4th St., Richmond, and;
- Action Metal Recycling, Inc., 385 Pittsburg Ave., Richmond.
Peterson said the seven metal recycling operations were targeted in a sting operation, in which agents offered copper wiring and other material used almost exclusively by railroads, BART, PG&E and other agencies to the recyclers, who purchased them without first verifying where they came from, as required by law.
“A six month undercover operation was set up to determine whether local recyclers were accepting stolen metals and whether they were also complying with California laws,” Peterson said. “We can verify that materials consistent with stolen metals were located at numerous sites.”
Businesses as well as individual owners can be charged with criminal and civil violations, he added, including receipt of stolen property, making false statements in records, criminal conspiracy and more.
Going after the thieves themselves was proving to be difficult, so Peterson said it was decided to go after the businesses that provide a place for the thieves to sell their stolen goods.
“The goal of this operation is to cut off the profit centers for the thieves and force the junk dealers and recyclers to comply with state law,” he said. “Any company or individual who has been found to have knowingly sold or purchased stolen metals, or turned a blind eye to whether the property purchased is stolen, and is profiting from these illegal purchases, will be prosecuted.”