Metal theft is just as it sounds: stealing metal from any source that yields a valuable enough quantity of metal that can be sold for scrap. This might be copper wiring ripped out of the walls of homes, but is certainly not limited to household wiring.
Thieves have taken bronze plaques from memorial statues, along with pieces of fire hydrants, man hole covers, farming equipment, and even road side guard rails.
It's not only an expensive loss of property, but it is also dangerous. The Terminator, i.e. Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, is preparing new laws specifically targeting this crime which has been growing in popularity as the price of metals like copper and aluminum has risen in the scrap markets.
Not only are these crimes destroying property and causing millions of dollars in damages, they are endangering lives.
So what does all that have to do with Puerto Rico you ask?
When I read the story, I had what I believe to believe an interesting although unlikely idea. When scrap metal thieves are caught and found guilty, instead of simply housing them in a tax payer bankrolled correctional facility, why not sentence them to "Puerto Rico"?
You see Puerto Rico, as I've discussed before, has a big issue with garbage. You can find it in all kinds of places that it should not be, such as drainage canals that end up flooding out Gil the Jenius and his neighbors, or along side roads, or at the end of cul-de-sac in a Cabo Rojo neighborhood I visited today.
Now most places in Puerto Rico that I am aware of are not even recycling paper or cans. Certainly not here on the West Coast. However, I also see plenty of bed rails, electronics, metal lamps, TVs, and other big stuff that really does not quite look at home in a residential dumpster headed for the land fill.
So one might suggest the following:
Send those crooks to Puerto Rico. We'll provide them with plenty of bottled water as they sift through the vast landfills, the drainage systems, the back roads, the "back yards", and even that washing machine at the end of the cul-de-sac in Cabo Rojo. They can load up on all the scrap metal they can. We'll accumulate it, sell it, and use the proceeds to fund: a better recycling program in Puerto Rico.
PS - Why do we not see sentenced Puerto Rican criminals, with light sentences for misdemeanor crimes, out along the roadside picking up trash, mowing public grass ways, etc? In California, they have what is called the "Sheriff's Work Program" that does just that.