December 09, 2008
The Record, Bergen County, NJ
statue that honored Marine Sgt. Matthew Fenton was stolen to sell for scrap metal. Police said the man accused of taking the statue, Vincent J. McManus of Little Ferry, did not know the figure was made of glazed concrete until later.
Fenton, who grew up in Little Ferry, died of shrapnel wounds two years ago, after his Humvee was attacked by a suicide bomber in Iraq. He had wanted to join the borough's police department. The department made him an honorary member after his death, at age 24.
The statue stood outside Memorial School, Fenton's alma mater. After it was reported missing last Sunday, police made finding it their priority. Find it they did -- hidden under a trash can in
McManus's back yard.
"All of us at the police department took this very personally," Lt. Frank Novak told The Record.
We commend the Little Ferry police for their quick work. And we urge the state Assembly to quickly pass a bill that would better regulate the scrap metal industry. While a concrete statue and a piece of legislation in Trenton may seem worlds apart, they are, unfortunately, closely
Scrap metal has become easy money. Demand for raw materials in China and India has caused scrap prices to shoot up. An FBI report issued this year found the price for copper increased 500 percent between 2001 and 2008. Thieves sell stolen metal to recyclers, who sell it to scrap metal dealers, the report found. It cites criminal rings in Minnesota that earned $20,000 a month
by stealing copper from houses and warehouses and selling it.
Right here in North Jersey, municipalities are losing out because thieves steal discarded items like refrigerators that the towns usually pick up and sell, Staff Writer Stephanie Akin reported on Friday. Towns use the money for their waste management departments. It's not just appliances that disappear. Bronze vases from cemeteries, copper wires and pipes in houses and basketball
backboards are also targets.
The New Jersey bill would require scrap metal dealers to check the identification of people from whom they buy metal, and keep sales and receiving records for five years. Dealers would be required to report suspicious deliveries of scrap metal.
The state Senate passed the bill in June. The Assembly has not yet voted on it.
The new law might not stop all metal theft, but it could curb the zeal. Maybe then robbers would not grab a statue erected to honor a hometown soldier, even if it were made of bronze.
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