MARCH 2011

Theft alert system helps recover stolen property

A brazen art heist in the Washington, D.C. area was solved thanks to an alert posted by the scrap industry’s online theft alert system. is a free theft notification web site that allows police to send detailed descriptions of stolen items to recycling operations and other law enforcement within a 100-plus mile radius of a theft. The system also allows scrap processors to alert law enforcement when they are offered suspicious materials at the scrap yard. The system currently has over 7,000 subscribers. Nearly 2,500 law enforcement professionals in the United States and Canada are registered to use the system.

Five bronze sculptures were stolen from a museum in Montgomery County, Maryland. The theft was noticed and reported to police. An employee of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) based in Washington, D.C., heard a report of the theft on a local news radio station. ISRI employees posted an alert for the missing material.

The employees at Montgomery Scrap Corporation read the alert, recognized the materials that had been sold to the scrap yard and contacted Montgomery County police. The materials had not been initially recognized as artwork because the bronzes had been damaged prior to being offered for sale at the scrap yard.

To aid the investigation, Montgomery Scrap Corporation also supplied police with a copy of the drivers’ license of the seller which lead to the police issuing an arrest warrant.

For more information and to subscribe to the nationwide theft alert system, visit