On a national level, with the increases in metal commodity prices, incidents of metal theft have been on the rise, and the City of Tucson has seen significant increases in this type of crime in recent years. Criminals target copper wiring, back flow water valves, air conditioning units, air conditioning compressor parts, and numerous other recyclable items. The City of Tucson and the Tucson Police Department have taken note that this crime has a significant impact on local business profit as well as law enforcement activities. Although these types of investigations are challenging and complex, the Tucson Police Department is utilizing this novel approach to apprehend and prosecute those involved in metal theft. On a local platform, it will take the collaboration of multiple divisions within the Tucson Police Department, the Business Community, and the Pima County Attorneys Office (PCAO) working in partnership to have a measurable impact on metal theft. Recognizing the magnitude of cases and the collaboration that needs to exist in order to truly address this blight on our community, the Tucson Police Department recently instituted a new initiative to address metal theft and the thieves committing these crimes in the Tucson area.
Known as the Metal Theft Reduction Apprehension Plan, or “MTRAP,” the plan involves education, investigation, enforcement, and prosecution. The mission of the Metal Theft Reduction and Apprehension Plan is to reduce the amount of metal theft within the Tucson Community. Essentially, this is accomplished through the direct collaboration of citizens reporting the incidents of metal theft upon immediate discovery, officers and investigative personnel collecting the information to both fully document each incident - ensuring that information is shared concisely and efficiently – as well as to capture the offenders, and prosecutors working to ensure that those responsible for the crimes are held accountable. The educational component of MTRAP includes both information and/or instruction concerning prevention as well as awareness and other intelligence gathering information for purposes of not only reporting incidents that occur, but also properly disseminating the information once it is gathered. There is a significant emphasis on communication and information sharing.
Currently, the Tucson Police Department is working jointly with members of the Business Community, the Pima County Attorneys Office, and other City of Tucson departments. However, with the successes seen thus far, including three investigations in two weeks that resulted in several felony arrests and a great amount of intelligence gathering and sharing in just the first 2 months of the new initiative, the Tucson Police Department intends to extend the program to other law enforcement agencies, business entities, and citizen groups in the Greater Tucson Metro Region. Only through continued collaborative partnerships, can this exceedingly harmful crime in our community truly be addressed.