The man responsible for stealing a Rock Hill woman’s car and selling it to a local scrap metal recycling business is behind bars, police say. But, his incarceration leaves little comfort for the woman now unable to drive her 1996 Ford Taurus after it was chopped into recycled scraps.
Earlier this week, Adrian Derelle Williams, 30, was charged with possessing and selling a stolen vehicle after he turned himself in to authorities, according to a Rock Hill Police report.
On Jan. 31, Williams stole Kimberly Sanders’ car while she was in her home, according to a report from the York County Sheriff’s Office. Williams then allegedly sold the car to the Rock Hill branch of OmniSource, a metal recycling company with more than 70 scrap collection and processing facilities across the Southeast and Midwest.
Williams also has been connected with the January thefts of three hot dog stands and an older model truck, both of which Williams sold to Carolina Salvage to be turned into scrap metal, police say.
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Initially, Sanders said she thought her car had been towed when she stepped out of her house and found the vehicle missing.
Weeks later, she discovered that her car, valued at $1,200 and parked at the side of her house for family to use as a “spare” ride, was scrapped beyond recovery and reduced to piles of metal.
“I was mad, very mad. My car was not a junk car, my car was driveable,” she said.
Aside from a flat tire and no insurance, “that was a good car,” Sanders said.
State law allows a person to sell an older car to a dealer without showing any proof of ownership. State law also requires dealers to wait 72 hours before scrapping a car, a window of time OmniSource adheres to, said Van Dick, source manager for OmniSource Southeast in Spartanburg. OmniSource trains its employees and law enforcement officials, on how to best detect metal thieves, Dick said.
“It’s always something we watch out for; it’s something we train our people to detect,” he said.
Since her car’s demolition, Sanders said she hasn’t heard from OmniSource about possible financial compensation. And, chances are, she won’t.
“We don’t have any policies in place that would reimburse her for a stolen car,” Dick said.
But if Sanders takes legal action against Williams, the company is prepared to assist her with a lawsuit, he said.
To curtail metal thefts, South Carolina adopted a law in August that requires anyone buying or selling valuable scrap metals to apply for a permit from their county sheriff’s office.
Thus far, that effort has yielded moderate success for York County.
Before the law went into effect, the county ranked “probably higher than average than the rest of the state” for metal thefts because it borders another state, said Master Deputy Joe Bennett with the York County Sheriff’s Office.
Common practice among sellers was marketing cars as “whole vehicles,” or stripping parts of the car and peddling them to various dealers in and outside the county, Bennett said.
“They get more money if they strip it down for parts,” Bennett said.
Sellers can “sell a catalytic converter here, then sell a hull in another location, then the rim somewhere else” and make a big profit, he said.
They aren’t limited to automobiles. Police records show that three men were arrested and charged earlier this month after they stole a Chester street sign and tried to sell it to OmniSource.
The sign was recovered before it could be recycled.
“Since we started the permit process, it has been more difficult for the sellers of these vehicles and materials to get them to the dealer,” Bennett said.
In January, state lawmakers proposed a bill that would make it harder for thieves to steal and sell cars older than eight years to metal dealers.