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Posted: 5/7/2004 3:33:32 AM EST
[Last Edit: 5/7/2004 3:40:27 AM EST by fight4yourrights]
New Jersey Guardrails Glamorous for Metal Thieves

New Jersey Guardrails Glamorous for Metal Thieves
By RONALD SMOTHERS

Published: May 6, 2004


EWARK, May 5 - In all the miles of roadway in this state, and all the jokes about them, no one saw this coming.

Unfortunately for state and local officials, no one saw anything going, either, and that makes this a bit of a mystery, as well as a madcap moment in the movie comedy starring the state of New Jersey.

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The mystery involves guardrails. Several miles of them. The aluminum rails have been disappearing in the dead of night on such heavily traveled highways as I-80, I-78 and State Routes 46 and 19.

The disappearances, which were first reported on Wednesday in The Record of Hackensack, have been noted from Paterson to Irvington. Aluminum facing has been painstakingly removed and the bolts holding it to posts sawed off, leaving stretches of stumplike posts lining the roads.

Why, say the experts, is understandable. It's a little bit of chaos theory and the so-called butterfly effect meeting Adam Smith's invisible hand, say state transportation officials and scrap metal experts.

They say that the explosive growth of the Chinese economy has made that country the No. 1 importer of scrap metal from the United States, meaning local dealers in scrap aluminum can get double their old rate for the metal and three times what scrap steel commands. "The collection system has kicked into high gear" to cash in and meet the demand, said Christopher Plummer, managing director of Metal Strategies, a consulting firm.

"But this is happening all over the world, from Russia to the Ukraine to Australia, and especially in poorer third-world countries," said Mr. Plummer. "When it gets to the point of outright theft, then you can imagine the profits to be made."

But the thieves' profits are the State of New Jersey's loss, and raise concerns about serious accidents or even deaths. The state transportation commissioner, Jack Lettiere, said yesterday that his agency had begun replacing some of the stolen railings with steel railings, which are not quite as precious in the scrap metal market. So far, some 16,800 linear feet of railing have been bought and the department is still calculating how much more it will need.

Maintenance crews have been asked to fill out forms, which are now filed daily, detailing any missing railings or other vandalism they spot along their routes. In addition, said Mr. Lettiere, his agency will alert county road departments to conduct a similar daily review and report to his agency.

"Generally most agencies at the county level will try to handle these things themselves," the commissioner said. "But we are trying to document it and find patterns and see how widespread it is."

Sgt. Kevin Rehmann, a spokesman for the New Jersey State Police, said the department's investigators were determined to track down the culprits, who have struck mainly in Passaic, Essex and Morris Counties.

"There have been no arrests as yet, but we have been aware of this since last September, and the superintendent of state police has put the northern New Jersey commander in charge of the investigation," he said.

The problem has not been as acute on state parkways and the New Jersey Turnpike, said Joseph Orlando, a spokesman for the agency that operates the toll roads. They are closed roadways, he noted, adding, "You would clearly raise some eyebrows trying to bring a flatbed truck loaded with railings through a toll plaza."

Mr. Plummer of Metal Strategies said that aluminum was selling for about 80 cents a pound, more than three times the 15 cents to 25 cents a pound that the bellwether scrap steel was bringing. And even those prices, he said, are more than twice the average price some 10 years ago.

Still, some in the industry like Robin Wiener, president of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, which represents scrap dealers and importers, said they were not aware of any particular problem with theft and black market scrap in the United States. Ms. Wiener said she had heard of thieves' dismantling an entire bridge in Ukraine last year and selling it for scrap.

"But I am not aware of anything like that in the U.S., and we certainly don't condone it," she said.
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 3:41:07 AM EST
One would think that since an aluminum gardrail section would look like............well,just that.It would therefore not be too diff to be able to spot this shit in scrapyards.WTF?


There were a couple of fellows who worked for the water dept here that took several tons of very distinct looking municipal watervalve parts to a local scrap yard and were busted over it.They spent the money on cheap wine and 20" wheels for dey ride.A pair of rocket scientists.
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 3:43:17 AM EST
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 3:44:00 AM EST

Originally Posted By Aimless:

Even in the early morning hours how do you swipe a guard rail along a hiway?




Um, pay off the cops maybe.
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 3:48:51 AM EST
Guys, I only need to borrow the rails for a few day. Promise to return them when I'm done.

Geez, can't a guy get some simple state assistance and not look like a welfare case?
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 3:53:42 AM EST

Originally Posted By dinkydow:
One would think that since an aluminum gardrail section would look like............well,just that.It would therefore not be too diff to be able to spot this shit in scrapyards.WTF?


There were a couple of fellows who worked for the water dept here that took several tons of very distinct looking municipal watervalve parts to a local scrap yard and were busted over it.They spent the money on cheap wine and 20" wheels for dey ride.A pair of rocket scientists.



Many scrap yards have smelters for Aluminium, they will gather the aluminium and melt it into ingots. Very Profitable!!!!
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 3:58:38 AM EST
Mexicans
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 3:58:42 AM EST

Originally Posted By Aimless:
Even in the early morning hours how do you swipe a guard rail along a hiway?



Easy:

get an old NJDOT truck from an auction, buy a few orange helmets and traffic vests, and off to town they go.

The only unusual thing that anyone might notice is the guys seem to be actually working.

Jay
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 3:59:03 AM EST

Originally Posted By fight4yourrights:

Originally Posted By Aimless:

Even in the early morning hours how do you swipe a guard rail along a hiway?




Um, pay off the cops maybe.



Now there is an intelligent answer.

Here's a more likely one. The contractors doing the intallation are also stealing it. After all, what would be suspicious about a DOT truck along the highway? That's how guys here were stealing copper transmission cable. They'd string it during the week and then steal it over the weekend before it was hooked up to the main line. They snagged something like $150K of cable before they were caught.
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 4:07:26 AM EST

Originally Posted By raven:
Mexicans



I'd bet $ on that!!!!
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 4:17:09 AM EST

Originally Posted By TUMOR:

Originally Posted By raven:
Mexicans



I'd bet $ on that!!!!



you should see them, or at least people who look much like "stereotypical" mexicans, when they hit the harry's you pull-it junkyard in hazleton, pa. (northeastern part of the state near NY and NJ). they arrive in NJ and NY plated vans and swarm ove the target vehicle like ants on a popsicle. an hour or two later and nearly every removable part is gone and whisked off to the vans.
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 4:26:27 AM EST
Never noticed that before.
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 4:32:13 AM EST

Originally Posted By AZCOP:

Originally Posted By Aimless:
Even in the early morning hours how do you swipe a guard rail along a hiway?



Easy:

get an old NJDOT truck from an auction, buy a few orange helmets and traffic vests, and off to town they go.

The only unusual thing that anyone might notice is the guys seem to be actually working.

Jay



Ain't that the truth!!!
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 4:38:13 AM EST
What AR manufacturers are based in NJ... hopefully the guard rails are being melted down to make receivers.
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 4:47:29 AM EST

Originally Posted By raven:
Mexicans



No Jersey White Trash
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 4:58:59 AM EST


You didn't see nuttin! Correct?
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 5:08:46 AM EST
I went to Sandy Hook/Fort Hancock 2 weekends ago. That place was awesome! Fort Hancock
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 5:19:29 AM EST
Been going on for a long time in FL. They Steal the handrails along the sidewalks, aluminum signs & sign poles, gutters & downspouts off of businesses & schools. The solution has been to replace them with steel and PVC where possible. Hell, they've even stolen the lumber off of board fences. Waiting for gasoline theft from parked cars to start being more frequent.
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 5:55:17 AM EST
[Last Edit: 5/7/2004 6:03:49 AM EST by Cincinnatus]
In NJ, you can doo anything, as long as you have:

1) A truck with revolving amber lights.

2) Reflective vests.

3) Hardhats

4) Guy waving orange flag.

No one will question you.

Link Posted: 5/7/2004 5:57:34 AM EST

Originally Posted By uns69:
www.audiorevolution.com/news/0303/18.sopsalary.gif

You didn't see nuttin! Correct?



That's the first thing that came to my mind.

I need to stop watching so much TV...
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 8:47:04 AM EST

Originally Posted By raven:
Mexicans



Nope, their a bit darker.
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 8:49:49 AM EST
In Milwaukee, they steal manhole covers
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 9:00:32 AM EST
Around here it's Aluminum bleacher seats.
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 9:06:33 AM EST
Y'all need to shut up! OUR PRESIDENT has said production moving to China is a good thing for the US! Why do you guys hate freedom so much?
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 2:43:29 PM EST

Originally Posted By 223Rem:
Guys, I only need to borrow the rails for a few day. Promise to return them when I'm done.

Geez, can't a guy get some simple state assistance and not look like a welfare case?




You know, this has some weird twisted logic. In a weird way its kinda good that they're at least working for the states my money. Plus its keeping someone else in a job replacing them. Are me and 223 the only ones this twisted to see it? I really prefer this to welfare.
Now if they're stealing from private companies or individuals thats another story.
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 2:51:31 PM EST

Originally Posted By Aimless:
Even in the early morning hours how do you swipe a guard rail along a hiway?



Anythings possible in the magical shit hole called New Jersey.
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 7:48:58 PM EST

Originally Posted By Aimless:
Even in the early morning hours how do you swipe a guard rail along a hiway?



Put on an orange Saftey Vest and a yellow hard had look disgruntled and noone will be the wiser.
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 8:13:05 PM EST
Sounds like too much work the the normal variety crackhead.
Link Posted: 5/7/2004 9:03:09 PM EST
reading this i get the mental imige of i bunch of drunk guys in a pickup with a crow bar and one guys in the back and he uses the crow bar to pry it ofd as thay are driving along
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