Task force charged with investigating theft of plastic products, including pallets, crates, baskets, in Southern California believes it's 'just scratching the surface' of the problem nationally, which could amount to US$500M/year

LOS ANGELES , January 16, 2012 () –

A task force started in September has so far recovered US$5 million in stolen trademarked plastics products in Southern California, but believes “we are just scratching the surface” nationally, according to an official, reported Plastics News on Jan. 13.

Most of the investigations are clandestine and the sites are primarily in Los Angeles or Compton, California, said Sgt. Nabeel Mitry, supervisor of the plastic industrial theft task force for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept.

Theft of trademarked plastic products in the U.S. could amount to more than $500 million a year, according to documents uncovered by the task force, which includes among its duties checking recycling companies for compliance with California’s business and professions code, Plastics News reported.

Currently, the task force is working with the U.S. Postal Service to seek a federal indictment against one person and has asked the Internal Revenue Service for help in possibly seizing the property and assets of several suspects.

The task force has terminated six large illegal plastic grinding operations, inspected more than 100 businesses and arrested at least seven people on felony charges of possession of stolen property and illegal possession of trademarked plastic products, reported Plastics News.

In a Jan. 10 incident in Los Angeles, the owner and three employees of R and P Industries were arrested for possession of stolen property, including trademarked plastic pallets, crates, totes and bread baskets.

On Dec. 19, the president and two employees of New Horizon Plastics Inc. in Los Angeles were arrested after pallets and crates belonging to a number of major brands were recovered, Plastics News reported.

The incidents of stolen plastic pallets and other reusable containers is on the rise as the value of plastics increases, said Al Farrell, VP of asset management for iGPS Co. LLC, which claims its pallets were among those found at New Horizon.

The task force, which is working with 25-30 companies, will report on its progress in two months “and convince them that we have more than an idea,” said Mitry.

The thefts occur at loading docks, where grocery stores typically leave trademarked plastic pallets, milk crates, baskets, totes and trays for vendors to pick up and return, reported Plastics News.

The primary source of this article is Plastics News, Akron, Ohio, on Jan. 13, 2012.


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