FREWSBURG-Quick cash for stolen metal is a recurring crime in Chautauqua County, as evidenced by the latest theft of more than 400 pounds of steel parts Monday.
According to the Carroll Police Department, Chad M. Nelson, 34, and Roseanne Nelson, 32, both of Frewsburg, were charged with two felonies-fourth-degree grand larceny and fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property-after police observed them transporting steel parts in their pick-up truck and selling it for a large quantity of money at a local scrap metal site.
"This was a very heavy amount of solid steel," said Tim Wright, chief of police at the Carroll Police Department. "It just shows the extent people will go to (for scrap metal and some money)."
The Nelsons allegedly trespassed onto a private property in Frewsburg to get the metal.
Chad M. Nelson, in addition to the above felonies, was charged with second-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle-for having a suspended New York state driver's license-petit larceny and trespassing. Roseanne Nelson was also charged with trespassing.
Both were committed to Chautauqua County Jail on a bail recommendation set by the district attorney's office.
Unfortunately, scrap metal is quickly becoming a hot commodity for thieves in the local area.
"The price of metal is going up," said Sergeant Investigator James Rensel of the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office. "This only makes scrap metal more attractive. And the heavier the better."
Another notable theft occurred at the Cockaigne Ski Resort in September, in which a snow-making machine- valued at approximately $5,000- was stolen.
The resort, which closed in 2011 after the burning down of its Austrian World's Fair ski lodge and ensuing reports of vandalism and burglaries, has become a prime target for scrap metal thieves who take advantage of its desolate location and lack of security, police said.
The investigation for the snow-making machine is still ongoing.
Rensel encourages the public to look out for vehicles coming out of abandoned or secluded areas and traveling at odd hours of the night.
"If a truck is driving around with metal that looks chopped up or burned with a blowtorch, that's usually a clue," said Rensel. "(Thieves) typically strike on weekends and are younger and agile enough to get under tires and carry heavy things."
Rensel recommends that residents keeps their doors and barns locked, as well as safeguard any unattended metal. Suspicious activity is to be reported to the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office "WeTip" number 800-78-CRIME (800-782-7463). Callers are eligible for up to a $1,000 reward for tips involving the stolen snow head. Descriptions of people, vehicles and license plate numbers are valued.