SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) - A new breed of thieves is scoring big not with cash, jewels or cars, but empty milk crates.
The Orange County Register reports Sunday that Southern California is seeing a boom in the theft of crates, pallets, and other easy-to-steal hunks of plastic that are chopped up and sold to recycling centers for totals investigators estimate at some $5 million annually.
A task force headed by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and funded by the City of Industry has exposed at least 50 underground recycling operations since its Sept. 2011 formation.
The busts included a recovery of $115,000 worth of stolen plastic from El Monte and Lynwood in January, and the arrest of four people and recovery of nearly a half-million dollars worth from an operation in Anaheim.
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