Scrap Metal Thieves Steal Your Reputation: How to Encourage Honest Scrappers

We don’t have to tell you what a problem scrap metal thieves are for honest scrap yards and industrial recycling facilities, particularly for your reputations. When the police try to track down stolen metal goods, it’s your door they knock on first — and somehow make you complicit in another’s criminal activity. The broader community might think that you’re a beacon for bad folks, which ruins your business’s good name and prevents honest sellers from working with you.

The first step to this reputation crisis is to identify scrap metal thieves before they can sell bad scrap to your yard in the first place, which we’ve covered before. But, how can you encourage the honest scrap metal sellers without turning your facility into Fort Knox? We’ve got some ways that you can help your business’s reputation grow with honest scrap metal providers while maintaining top-notch security.

“Void of Any Honor”?

Over on the iScrapp App’s blog, one 35-year veteran scrapper wrote that the public perception of scrappers is that they are “dirty” low-lifes with low intelligence. However, in this scrapper’s experience, the description might be better applied to the scrap yards. The reputation of yards with honest scrappers can be, well, down in the dumps.

…until the last few weeks I held a very negative view of all scrap yard owners. I wrote more than one article voicing my opinion that [metal scrap] yard owners were a thieving, low-life group of people who walked on the dark side of the street. They held no respect for the law, were void of any honor and could not even spell the word “integrity”, much less define it. Their number-one objective was to put money in their pockets, and their vehicle of choice was to steal it from those whose very merchandise was what kept them in business in the first place — from the scrappers.

A potentially adversarial relationship like the one this scrapper describes — one in which both partners believe the other is untrustworthy — simply leads to more theft and antagonism. (After all, if you already think that the other guy is ripping you off, why not “get revenge” and steal from him in turn?)

However, this writer’s experience and perception of his local yards and the industry as a whole improved after some effort and outreach on everyone’s part. Your reputation with the local “good guys” can also improve when you acknowledge the importance of all your scrappers — your yard’s local business partners!

In this way, you can begin to build a healthy relationship with those who keep you in business. Plus, when theft and criminal activity does occur, you’ll have a community who will rise to your defense.

Everyday Acknowledgement of Honest Scrappers

Now, when we say “acknowledge the importance” of your local metal scrappers, that doesn’t mean grand gestures like sponsoring a parade float in the next Homecoming Parade. (Unless your scrappers attend and appreciate local parades, in which case, proceed!)

No, we mean that every day, your employees and managers of your scrap yard should remember and appreciate the folks who come in with scrap to sell. (As Eyewitness President R.T. Arnold likes to say, “People won’t remember what you do for them, but they’ll remember how you make them feel.”)

Why not have a fresh pot of coffee or a gallon of sweet tea brewing in the weigh house for visiting scrappers? It won’t cost much more than your time, after all. Something as simple as offering someone a drink makes people feel welcome and appreciated.

There are more meaningful ways to show your appreciation for the folks who take the time to sell their scrap to your yard, though, but they’ll cost you a bit more. Consider upping how much you’re willing to pay for scrap, particularly non-ferrous metals — even if you’re not stretched.

Don’t be exorbitant, of course, but don’t try to squeeze every single penny out of your metal suppliers. By paying a fair price for your scrap, you’ll give your yard a reputation for honest business dealings. That sort of reputation will put you head and shoulders above your competition so they’ll seek your yard out first and last, instead of shopping around to your competitors.

Finally, keep a list of the scrappers who do the most business with your yard, as well as a few scrappers who are genuinely good people to work with. Every quarter, send these folks a handwritten letter, postcard, or even a personalized email to thank them for their partnership with your yard.

If you do this, remember to say why you appreciate their individual business beyond simply having the biggest scrap hauls. Maybe they’re always positive, making your employees smile and look forward to work. Maybe they’re scrupulously honest, even to the point of making a little less.

You quietly appreciate these people all the time for making your business operate — make a point of telling them so openly and regularly. A little appreciation will go a long way.

Leveraging Security as a Selling Point

As we’ve seen, honest metal scrappers and businesses with construction waste don’t want to associate themselves with those without integrity. They’ve grown their businesses by keeping to the straight and narrow, and want to make sure that their partners do the same.

Therefore, you can use your relationships with law enforcement and security companies as a “selling” point with honest scrappers.

Have a corkboard with the latest known scrap metal thieves’ pictures posted in the weigh house. Make sure they’re clearly visible to both employees and visitors alike, and that the postings clearly state why they’re wanted or not welcome on the premises. (You can get these sorts of postings and images both from your local police, or from your security provider if your yard has cameras.)

By doing this, you’ll simultaneously ensuring that dishonest scrap metal thieves avoid selling to your yard and show honest scrappers your commitment to ethical metal sales.

When you hear of metal theft in the broader community, you can also proactively help the police to locate these scoundrels who give honest scrappers a bad reputation. Send out metal theft alerts to your local scrappers’ emails, and ask if they know anything.

Scrap metal theft may hurt scrappers even more than yards, since increased permitting and security measures provide more barriers to sales used to support their families. They’ll be happy to help fellow ethical business owners, especially to keep everyone in business.


Originally published at Eyewitness Surveillance. Editor’s note: This article has been adjusted and edited based on feedback from the iScrap blog article author quoted. My sincerest apologies for the misunderstanding! I hope this update better reflects your professional experience.