Construction theft resolved thanks to prepared businesses

By: Max Hess - Email
By: Max Hess - Email

Posted Wednesday, July 16, 2014 -- 10:00 p.m.

Alter Recycling on Madison's East Side is a big name in the metal business, according to Adam Cotter, an account manager at the company.

"We service anything from, you know, the 'Ma and 'Pop with two bags of cans they need to bring in to... the general contractor."

He calls it a necessary business, but one that can also draw in crooks.

"It's a thorn in everybody's side... especially when the prices go up, you get a lot of desperate people out there."

One of the biggest players in that realm is copper.

"Copper is definitely worth more than a soda can and there's more motivation out there for people to steal," Cotter explained.

That's exactly what happened late last week at a construction site for a new UW Health complex on Madison's East Side.

However, both the recycling businesses and people who are stolen from, like Brian Schultz with Hooper Cooperation, aren't dumb.

"Within a 20 mile radius we contacted all the recycling centers and said if any of this material turns up give us a call," Schultz said.

Sure enough, a few days later, that call turned out to be lucky.

One of the workers at the recycling plant recognized the stolen material and stalled the people selling it.

So as 51-year-old Thomas King and 39-year-old Rodney Wipperfurth attempted to gain profit from stolen copper, employees called the cops.

"You know I was kind of in shock that they had called," Schultz said, thanking Alter for their help.

Two arrested, theft averted... and copper returned.

Madison Police say as of now King and Wipperfurth have not been charged with theft and were initially arrested for parole violations.

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