A mounting tide of metal thefts, and the damage caused by metal thieves has prompted a call for help from the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office.

In a press release, Capt. Jim Kulesa, sheriff’s public information officer, said 2012 has seen an increase in thefts.

Since January 2012, there have been 91 thefts of various metals reported; since the beginning of November, there have been at least nine thefts of metal including copper, Kulesa said.

One farm has seen losses mount to an estimated $70,000, including the cost of repairs to damaged equipment, Kulesa said.

It is anyone’s guess how many thefts go unreported in which the victim simply replaces or repairs stolen equipment.

Kulesa cautions that there are individuals who legally and properly collect and sell scrap metal for extra money, or even make a living. "They will obtain permission from the owners of the property to possibly clear a lot or an old building," he said.

However, there are individuals who steal copper wire and other metal by stripping it from construction sites, residences and, especially, farms and farm equipment.

"These people not only commit a crime, they also cause serious damage to property and equipment and interfere with the operation of a farm or hampers construction," Kulesa said.

Thefts such as these, affect everyone, Kulesa said. The cost of repairs and replacements means prices have to go up.

Be aware of and report anything suspicious, Kulesa said. A vehicle or trailer loaded with scrap metal, especially being moved at night, or a vehicle seen driving around a farm shop or construction site at night.

If possible, get the license plate number, and get a good description, and then call the Sheriff’s Office at 501-676-3000.