The Secondary Metal Theft Prevention Act of 2009

Stealing scrap metals  Clerical errors at scrapyards could become a federal crime under provisions of H.R.1006 now in committee.  We saw nothing in this bill  that is aimed at the theives who actually steal, say, the cover of that manhole that you drive into. 

You won't find these in our chip buckets!

You won't find these in our chip buckets!

But if the scrapyard makes a paperwork error, look out. $10,000 fine!

Goal 8 of the bill states “The secondary metal recycling industry should be commended for educating the public and law enforcement to the problems related to metal theft, issuing `Do Not Buy’ lists, partnering with the National Crime Prevention Council, and creating a Theft Alert System.”

Section 9, Civil Penalty  states “The knowing violation of any provision of this Act is punishable by a civil penalty of not to exceed $10,000.”

Fining clerks  in small businesses  $10,000 for paperwork errors- now that’s  an effective way to commend the industry. Does nothing to deter  the actual thieves from stealing infrastructure.

Bipartisan introductions in both the House ( H.R.1006  ) and Senate (S.418) could make this one bill that actually gets out of committee and passed  this year.

The bill requires “secondary metal recycling agents to keep records of their transactions in order to deter individuals and enterprises engaged in the theft and interstate sale of stolen secondary metal, and for other purposes.”

They already do.

The bill specifically calls out manhole covers, storm water grates, highway guard rails, railroad tracks, automobile components, and street lamps as posing a significant safety risk.

It defines secondary metal as “Copper, aluminum, or other metal (including any metal combined with other materials) that is valuable for recycling or reuse as raw metal.”

We understand the problem of theft of metals – the price of copper has  increased 19 % since May, 64% since January according to PMPA’s latest Material Impacts Report .  Steel scrap prices have been highly variable, and thefts peak when the prices paid are high.

But is increasing  the penalties for recordkeeping  requirements  on scrap dealers the best way to tackle this problem?

What do you think? Has theft of scrap metals been a problem for your shop? Has your community been plagued by theft of power lines, guard rails or manhole covers? What would you recommend to lawmakers to deter the theft of scrap metals?  We think fining clerks at scrapyards does nothing to deter theft. What about you?

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2 Responses to The Secondary Metal Theft Prevention Act of 2009

  1. Michael McCormick says:

    “We think fining clerks at scrapyards does nothing to deter theft. What about you?”

    Metal items would not be stolen if there was no easy cash market for them. Records of who brings what to a recycler should be a mandatory SOP. Recyclers who pay for these materials then turn them into profit are complicit in the crime if the items are stolen. So, yes, there should be repercussions for both the employee and the business.
    This is similar to the accountability a waitress or bartender has for serving intoxicated or underage patrons.

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