One of our suppliers had about $30,000 worth of steel pipe stolen from their yard over the weekend.
For reference: Steel pipe is usually produced in 40-foot lengths. It is stenciled at the mill with a number that identifies the “heat”, or batch, of steel from which it was produced, and certified reports that detail the chemical and physical properties of the heat are issued by the mill to show that the pipe meets the ASME and ASTM specs to which it’s been certified.
Without the mill certificates to prove that the steel is what it’s supposed to be, the pipe is basically good for parking meter poles and not much else. Steel pipe is not a commodity that is easily convertable to cash. And I don’t think I need to point out that 40-foot lengths of steel are tough to hide.
Another problem for a potential thief: Steel is heavy. 30 G’s worth of steel pipe is roughly a truckload, about 22 tons. You need a flatbed to move it and a forklift to load it. It takes some practice to handle a lift carrying 20-to-40-foot lengths of steel weighing up to five tons per piece.
Long story short: There are lots of things easier to steal than steel pipe.
Faced with these facts, even your rookie detective is going to start by looking at guys with experience working in a pipe yard. Since there was no evidence that the lock on the gate was forced to admit the flatbed, you can shorten your list to guys with experience at that pipe yard. Somebody with a key.
Needless to say, the pipe has been recovered.