City of Odessa Trying to Stop Buying and Selling of Stolen Metals

By Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9

ODESSA- There is a growing problem of metal theft happening in the Basin. Crooks are stealing pricey metals and trying to sell them to scrap metal shops for a quick buck.

Billy Grimes works with his father, Travis Grimes, at Grimes Iron and Metal scrap yard in West Odessa.

Billy says, "Every once in awhile you get people that will bring something in that looks brand new and you just know that it shouldn't be here."

Scrap metal buyers all over the Basin are dealing with the constant headache of folks trying to sell them ripped off goods.

"There's a lot of stuff being stolen all the time. Some material that is stolen is worth a lot more money to the people it was stolen from than it is worth in scrap," Travis said.

This is a problem Ector County has worked hard to get a handle on. By law, buyers have to photograph some of the more desirable metals, like copper wire and air conditioning coils. Now, the city of Odessa is about to do the same.

At this week's city council meeting, it was decided that second hand goods dealers will have to take a picture of every item they receive. Pawn shops were the primary targets, but scrap metal facilities were also included in the ordinance. Interestingly though, all the scrap yards are in the county.

The Odessa Police Department told NewsWest 9 there were no scrap metal buyers within city limits. However, the police department wanted scrap metal shops added to the ordinance as a preemptive measure.

Police understand the illegal trading of metals is becoming more of problem in West Texas. If a scrap metal shop pops up, OPD wants tough measures to already be in place.

County scrap metal buyers say snapping photos takes more work, but in the end, it helps law enforcement.

"If officials notice somebody selling too much of one kind of metal then they can try to figure out where it's coming from," Travis said.

"You have to send some people out the gate and you can't risk buying their goods because you're losing money that way," Billy said.