Monday, Aug. 6, 2007 | On behalf of BOMA San Diego, I would like to thank you for including a blog item about the rampant copper theft occurring in San Diego County. I should note that SDG&E and construction sites are not the only victims of this pervasive and insidious crime. In fact, the Building Owners and Managers Association of San Diego (BOMA) has been working on this issue for some time on behalf of our members who own and manage commercial real estate in San Diego and have experienced these thefts firsthand.

What’s being stolen from our member’s property are backflow prevention devices. Commercial property owners in most jurisdictions are required to have back flow prevention devices installed to prevent irrigation water from “back-flowing” into a property’s potable water source. While the scrap metal value of these stolen preventers is about $200, building owners and managers have spent from $3,000 to $6,000 to replace these items and purchase additional security and locks.

We have encouraged our members to take preventive measures to avoid the loss of their preventers. However, it is clear to us that the central problem with these thefts is how easy it is to sell salvage copper and brass to recyclers in the San Diego and Southern California region.

In order to address this matter, BOMA supported AB 844 by Assemblyman Berryhill which would have created a statewide law applicable to all jurisdictions to enhance enforcement efforts by local law enforcement.

Unfortunately, the recycling lobby in Sacramento was able to kill this legislation citing government mandates and a desire to prevent local agencies from adopting their own ordinances. So instead of working it out, the recyclers sided with the criminals and will ultimately make the job of law enforcement more difficult.

This is a sad statement about both the indirect complicity the recycling industry has with the criminals stealing these materials and the state of politics in Sacramento where legislation that was supported by property owners, police, prosecutors and local government would be killed by an industry that turns a blind eye to criminals making a few bucks at the expense of thousands to the victims.

We hope you will continue to report on this important topic and hold people who stop common sense measures like that of Assemblyman Berryhill accountable for their decisions to back criminals and not the victims of these property crimes.

Craig Benedetto is the legislative advocate San Diego Building Owners and Managers Association.

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