NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Authorities are teaming up with your neighbors to get control of a growing metal theft problem.
The crime is a cheap hustle with a big payoff.
A quick thinking employee is getting all the credit for stopping a group of metal thieves.
Nacogdoches County authorities say it's the third group caught in the act in the last two weeks.
"We're so appreciative of the fact that people are looking out for their neighbors, as well as themselves. And, they're willing to call in," said Nacogdoches County Sheriff Thomas Kerss.
Reports show three men went on private property, trying to steal scrap metal.
It may be junk to some, but a high premium makes metal valuable.
"It does have a fairly good rate of return, but at the same time, if you're a thief and you have little invested in it, other than what labor it may have taken you to that, you're really not worried about how much profit you're going to make," said Kerss.
The homeowner said that she signed a permission slip the men presented her with before allowing them to go into her backyard and take whatever metal they found.
"You have to make sure that you have permission and have to know that the landowner owns that property in giving you permission," said Jason Bridges, Nacogdoches County Constable, Precinct 4.
Bridges says it turned into a crime, when the men wandered into a neighbors yard.
That neighbor's employee alerted his boss, who in turn called authorities.
Law enforcement says stopping thieves would be much harder without watchful citizens.
"It's really hard to trace. So, they got out, and they see these things. And, they grab it. They load up their trailer, or they take it to a scrap yard. They get a few hundred dollars for it or whatever the case may be," said Bridges.
The neighbor chose not to press charges.
Authorities say the men returned the metal and were given a 'no trespassing' warning.
Copper theft is a felony, while other charges for metal theft depend on the type of metal and the amount stolen.
New laws require salvage yards to identify sellers before buying metal.
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