Scrapyard owner charged in theft of 500 pounds of copper

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Police in north Charlotte have charged a scrapyard owner with possession of stolen property after they said he bought 500 pounds of copper from undercover officers.

Officers arrested James Borga, 44, Thursday at his scrapyard on Atando Avenue.

The arrest comes after an undercover operation where police say Borga had bought copper twice before from undercover officers who told him the metal was stolen, and they say his metals business includes junked cars.

"His MO is he'll tow cars or have someone tow cars into his business, chop them up and send it out for scrap metal," said Lt Ken Schul, who briefed officers before they moved in and arrested Borga.

The raid included inspectors from the Division of Motor Vehicles, who checked engine parts on Borga's lot.

"We're looking for any vehicle components that could be stolen or from stolen vehicles," said Inspector Andrew Pinney with the DMV.

Auto theft detectives also checked out at least 17 cars -- but say none of them or the parts appeared to be stolen.

Detectives also found a trailer full of catalytic converters -- each possibly worth $500 with no record of where they came from.

"That's part of the issue here is he's representing himself as a scrapyard and not doing the proper paperwork," said Detective Tom Geisler, who plans to charge Borga with failing to keep records of his scrap purchases.

Schul said the scrap yard is an easy place for thieves to dump their stolen metal, and he wants that to stop.

"He's not a recycling plant. I don't see recycling on that business," Schul said.

"We want to send a message that we know that business out here are doing this, and believe it or not, people talk and it will catch up with you sooner or later," Schul added.

Borga did not comment as police put him in handcuffs and into a patrol car.