KALIHI (KHNL) -- A huge victory in the war against copper thieves. Kalihi police take down workers at two recycling companies accused of accepting stolen copper products.
The arrests capped a three-month investigation called Operation Full Copper Jacket. Armed with various copper items, undercover officers visited the six recyclers that are located in the Kalihi district.
Gina Gaheton and her daughter are turning in their bottles for recycling.
"This is our first time," Gaheton said.
Nearby, police question workers at Aiea Recycling, and go through their collection of scrap metal. The raid caps a three-month investigation aimed at curbing copper thefts, especially from lighting fixtures on our roadways.
"I think it's good about it because we need the lights on the freeways," Gaheton said. "And it's dangerous for us when we're driving."
Earlier, an undercover officer brought a large spool of copper wire, valued at more than $3,000, to Aiea Recycling. Police say a 44-year-old female worker accepted it without questions.
"We told them that it was stolen from Hawaiian Electric," Maj. Kurt Kendro, Honolulu Police Department, said. "And they purchased the item anyway."
Of the six recyclers located in the Kalihi district, investigators say two, Aiea Recycling and Island Recycling, violated Hawaii's scrap metal law by accepting copper without properly documenting the sellers' information.
"We are running operations, undercover operations, to make sure that they're in compliance with the law," Kendro said. "And our message is to them is don't buy stolen copper, discourage it. And if the thieves can't come to the copper recyclers, they can't get their money."