Six men were arrested Wednesday in connection to a metal theft ring that involved thousands of dollars in stolen copper.
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry identified Jimichael Parker, 37, as the ring leader. He faces multiple counts of theft, racketeering and filing false income taxes.
Parker and five other men, Anton Harris, Antwoine Harris, Gerald Joyce, Clinton Skinner and Courtney Parker are accused of taking more than 47,000 pounds of copper and selling it at a scrap yard for more than $156,000.
Curry said scrap metal thefts of air conditioning units in Marion County exceeded more than $800,000 to date this year.
Metro police developed information on the scrap metal theft ring when their names repeatedly showed up at one Indianapolis salvage yard.
Investigators went to court and obtained permission to place a GPS tracking device on the suspect's vehicle.
"When we go to community meetings, we're constantly asked about this problem, not necessarily violent crime, but these quality of life issues and those petty crimes that plague neighborhoods throughout the city," Greg Bieberich, with Metro police, said.
Investigators say the scrap metal theft ring targeted large, vacant commercial buildings. In removing copper wiring in just four commercial structures, the thieves caused nearly $300,000 of damages to the structures.
The police department used a nationwide internet service to track transactions made by Parker and his associates. Indianapolis area scrap yards are required to submit real time information on what scrappers sell and when they sell it.
Metro Police and investigators from the prosecutor's office praised Circle City Metals for their cooperation in making the theft cases against Parker. Although authorities couldn't charge his five alleged gang members with the burglaries, the accurate record keeping means they will face other charges.
"Even though the evidence did not specifically tie the other five individuals to the specific burglaries, because we allege they are identified in the sale of these metals and did not file tax returns, we have charged them with tax violations as well as theft," Curry said.