The leader of the Cleveland Police Environmental task force reports scrap metal thieves are now targeting local businesses, stealing more than $500,000 in metal from more than a dozen locations over the past several months.
Sergeant Andrew Ezzo told News 5 in some cases employees steal metal from their own employers and take the items to one of Cuyahoga County's 27 scrap yards to make a quick buck.
Ezzo said Cleveland Police have an arrest warrant out 47-year-old Brian Douse, who's been charged with grand theft after he allegedly took tens of thousands of dollars in aluminum sheets from his employer Steeltech Products.
Ezzo said Douse allegedly took the stolen metal to two Cleveland scrap yards with little resistance.
"He was able to cut it into smaller sheets, throw it in the back of his car, and run right up to the scrap yard," said Ezzo.
"The guy brings 600 pounds of aluminum and walks through the door with it. Nobody ever asks where did he get it from. And that's not just one scrap yard, the majority of them are doing it this way."
Ezzo said some scrap yards voluntarily take pictures of all items brought into their locations, but Ohio law still doesn't require that a scrap yards take photos.
The photos help police better track stolen items, which can help lead to arrests.
Ezzo believes if Ohio makes pictures mandatory, it will help to reduce metal thefts at businesses, and at homes.
"These scrap yards are out there buying stolen property, and if you cut off the guy who buys the property, you cut off the guy from stealing it."
Cleveland police ask anyone with information on the whereabouts of Brian Douse to contact them.