Monday, February 06, 2012

Some state legislators want bills to better track metal theft, regulate scrap recycling

Copper and metal theft is a persistent problem in many rural areas where thieves sell it for scrap. Several state lawmakers are trying to tighten restrictions on scrap sales to curb thefts, with most proposed bills aimed at regulating the metal recycling industry. If proposed bills pass into law, it could become an example for other states struggling with metal theft.

In Georgia, farmers whose irrigated fields and crops are torn up by thieves hunting for copper, the state Farm Bureau says the thefts have cost its members about $1 million, not counting those that aren't reported because farmers fear it will make them uninsurable, reports Maggie Lee of The Macon Telegraph. One proposed bill would require metal recyclers get a license and check ID and collect thumbprints from anyone trying to sell metal to them. It would also make it a felony to illegally buy or sell scrap metal worth more than $500.

Similarly, Alabama lawmakers want a current bill revised to combine total worth of stolen metal and total cost of property damage committed, reports Laura Camper of The Anniston Star. The total amount will likely make crimes worth enough to be considered a felony rather than a misdemeanor, and courts would be able to make thieves repay that total to property owners. The bill would require metal recyclers to take a picture of sellers and record their ID, vehicle identification number and address. They would also have to mail checks to customers and wait three days before selling the metal.

Vermont legislators are trying to better regulate scrap yards. A proposed bill in the state would require recyclers hold metal for 15 days, segregated from other metal and keep information on the seller, Gordon Dritschilo of the Rutland Herald reports. It would create a reporting form for purchases from anyone who's not an authorized scrap dealer, and allow someone suing over theft to recover the total cost of metal stolen and property damage. Co-sponsor of the bill Rep. Herb Russell said these changes will make it easier to catch thieves. (Read more)

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