In order to battle the continuing growth of copper theft across America, most states have enacted legislation designed to penalize thieves and the metal recyclers who purchase stolen metal. Following is a list of laws imposed by 34 states in efforts to prohibit the metal theft epidemic plaguing the nation.
As of September 1, 2007 Alabama banned cash sales of scrap metal that total more than $100 and will require anyone selling scrap metal to provide a government-issued identification card and other contact information.
Act 1193 of 2011 makes it illegal to sell any kind of scrap metal, including copper, unless the sellers have documentation on the origin of the metal and that they have permission to sell it.
Arizona's law makes damaging utility property -- including irrigation and water conservation property -- a criminal act. It also prohibits purchase of a catalytic converter except by a motor vehicle repair business or recycler and prohibits purchase of certain metals altogether.
AB-316 - This bill provides that every person who feloniously steals, takes, or carries away copper materials of another, including, but not limited to, copper wire, copper cable, copper tubing, and copper piping, which are of a value exceeding $950 is guilty of grand theft. Grand theft of copper shall be punishable by a fine not exceeding $2,500, or imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or both that fine and imprisonment, or imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, two years or three years and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
Requires scrap metal processors to comply with licensing and registration requirements applicable to junk dealers, as well as to maintain records that are open to examination.
Connecticut law makes theft of wire, cable or other equipment used to provide telecommunication services that cause an interruption in emergency telecommunication services larceny in the third degree.
Every scrap metal processor must create a record and provide information on a form to be supplied by the Delaware State Police or on another form that has been previously approved by the law enforcement agency having primary jurisdiction over the area in which the scrap metal processor's business is located with respect to copper, silver, gold or brass purchased or otherwise acquired.
A secondary metals recycler must maintain a record of all purchase transactions to which such secondary metals recycler is a party. If the purchase involves a stainless steel beer keg, the seller must provide written documentation from the manufacturer that the seller is the owner of the stainless steel beer keg or is an employee or agent of the manufacturer.
Three bills in Georgia address scrap metal recyclers. The first law regulates payments to people selling copper items to secondary metals recyclers. The second and third bills require secondary metal recyclers to maintain legible records of all purchase transactions to which the metal recycler is a party.
Requires all scrap dealers to be licensed with state treasurer.
Every scrap dealer, when the dealer purchases scrap within the State, shall obtain a written statement signed by the seller certifying that the seller has the lawful right to sell and dispose of the scrap.
Violation results in (1) A fine of $1,000 for the first offense; (2) A fine of $3,000 for the second offense; and (3) A fine of $5,000 and the suspension of the scrap dealer's license for a period of six months for the third or subsequent offense; provided that if the third or subsequent offense occurs within a five-year period from the occurrence of two prior offenses, the scrap dealer shall be subject to license revocation.
Theft of copper is considered a class C felony in Hawaii.
Illinois has four pieces of legislation surrounding metal theft and sales. The first law amends the Recyclable Metal Purchase Registration Law to include iron, steel and other ferrous metals in the definition of "recyclable metal."
The second law requires a recyclable metal dealer to obtain and record certain information for each transaction involving purchase of metal street signs.
The third bill amends the Illinois Vehicle Code to prohibit a recyclable metal dealer from acquiring or possessing a vehicle process it into a form other than a vehicle unless the recyclable metal dealer also is a licensed scrap processor.
The fourth bill bans metal recyclers from acquiring or possessing a vehicle, junk vehicle, vehicle cowl, or essential vehicle parts to process them into a form other than a vehicle unless the dealer also is a licensed scrap processor.
Requires metal dealers to make copies of government issued photo identification to verify the identity of people who sell valuable metal. The law also states that a dealer may not accept a metal beer keg if the keg is clearly marked as the property of a brewery or the keg's markings have been made illegible.
Kansas makes it unlawful for any person to sell items of regulated scrap metal to a scrap metal dealer unless that person presents the seller's name, address and place of business.
Every scrap metal dealer must keep a record in which the dealer must enter the name, residence or place of business of the person selling the item, as well as the items purchased, the price paid for the item or items, and a copy of the seller's photo driver's license card or other government-issued photo identification.
Every recycler, dealer in junk or metals, dealer in secondhand articles, vendor of bottles or rags, collector of or dealer in articles found in ashes, garbage, or other refuse must keep records of purchases of any catalytic converter, railroad rails, nonferrous metal or an alloy, or an object containing nonferrous metal or an alloy
No recycler, scrap metal dealer, or scrap yard operator may purchase any metal beer keg, whether damaged or undamaged, except from the brewer or its authorized representative if the keg is clearly marked as the property of a brewery manufacturer; or if the keg's identification markings have been made illegible.
Requires keeping records of all scrap metal purchases and prohibits purchasing scrap metal (including beer kegs) without signed statement that property is not stolen. Any person found violating the law is judged to have committed a civil violation for which a fine of not less than $50 and not more than $1,500 may be ordered.
Applies the penal code to any unlawful barter, transfer, sale, or shipment of copper or silver by person working in mine
Also applies the penal code to unlawful sales, transfers, or shipments of copper or silver by persons not engaged in business of mining or producing.
Requires video surveillance cameras or similar devices positioned to record or photograph a frontal view showing the face of each seller or prospective seller of scrap metal who enters the location.
The scrap metal dealer shall also photograph the seller's or prospective seller's vehicle, including license plate, either by video camera or still digital camera, so that an accurate and complete description of it may be obtained from the recordings made by the cameras.
The camera must record and display the accurate date and time and must be turned on at all times when the location is open for business and at any other time when scrap metal is purchased.
"Metal property" is defined as railroad track materials, copper materials and aluminum materials and electrical, communications or utility brass, stainless steel sinks, catalytic converters not attached to a motor vehicle and metal beer kegs.
Every scrap metal dealer or other purchaser shall keep an accurate and legible record of purchases. Metal dealers must also not conduct cash transactions for the purchase of metal property.
Any violation of these codes are considered a misdemeanor, and are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 per offense, unless the transaction related to the violation carries associated costs to repair or recover any property damaged in the theft of or removal of the metal property. Those found to have committed crimes where repair or recovery costs exceed $500 will be guilty of a felony and shall be imprisoned for a term not to exceed 10 years, fined not more than $10,000.00 or both.
A bill in New Jersey requires scrap metal recyclers to maintain records of purchases, including information gathered from a seller's identification. These records must be accessible to law enforcement agencies.
Certain types of metal recyclers are not allowed to purchase without reasonable documentation that the seller is authorized to sell such metals. It also authorizes individuals to notify recyclers of metals that have been stolen and prohibits purchases from minors.
Every scrap metal purchaser must keep and preserve a book of records for copper and copper bullion. Those records will be examined upon affidavit of theft or other unlawful taking;
Dealers must keep records sufficient to the licensing authority of the accumulation, storage, and handling of commodities as a junk or scrap metal dealer.
No junk or scrap metal dealer licensed by a governing body may purchase any metal keg for malt beverages or pieces of such metal keg, unless the seller is the brewer whose name or marking appears on the keg. If the brewer's name or marking has been removed or made illegible, the dealer may not purchase the keg.
The secondhand metal dealer or the dealer's agent must verify the accuracy of the personal identification document and vehicle identification presented by the seller at the time of transaction.
A secondhand metal dealer must also keep an accurate, legible and department-approved written record of each purchase of copper, brass, bronze, or aluminum material in excess of 10 pounds; or steel in excess of one ton. A written record must also be kept for each purchase of a stainless steel beer keg.
Mandates scrap metal dealers require identification and reporting procedures on any purchase of metal.
It is unlawful in North Carolina for any person to transport or possess copper in excess of 25 pounds on state highways unless that vehicle is being used in the ordinary course of business and is specifically permitted or registered.
Every scrap metal dealer must maintain a record book or electronic file, in which the dealer shall keep an accurate and complete record of all articles purchased or received by the dealer in the course of the dealer's daily business.
Violation of these laws carries fines not less than $25 thousand nor more than one thousand dollars and the costs of prosecution.
Stealing, removing, or aiding in copper theft is treated as a felony met with certain penalties
Any person found knowingly receiving, transporting, or possessing stolen copper wire, copper cable, or copper tubing will be guilty of a felony, sent to state prison for a term of not less that one year nor more than five years, or sent to county jail for not less than 90 days nor more than 200 days, or shall be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500, or both such fine and imprisonment.
Three bills in Rhode Island would require secondary metal recyclers to obtain a license from the attorney general's office in order to purchase certain types of ferrous and nonferrous metals.
Under South Carolina law, scrap metal dealers must have permits from their local sheriff to legally sell or buy copper, aluminum and catalytic converters. Sellers are not allowed to transport the metal without a permit. Before any transaction can occur, metal recyclers must make a copy of the seller's permit, photograph and license plate number. Dealers also have to keep records of every sale.
If the scrap metal business is notified by a law enforcement officer that an item of nonferrous metal property has been reported as stolen, the dealer must hold that property intact and safe from alteration or damage, and must place suitable identification on the property.
The scrap metal business is also required to hold the property for a period of time as directed by the law enforcement agency up to a maximum of 10 business days
No scrap metal dealer may purchase, deal or otherwise engage in the scrap metal business unless the dealer is registered with the Department of Commerce and Insurance.
No scrap metal dealer may purchase or otherwise acquire scrap metal from a person unless that person presents a state or federally issued photo identification card that appears valid on its face to the dealer, and provides a thumbprint.
Furthermore, no scrap metal dealer can knowingly purchase or possess a metal beer keg, whether damaged or undamaged, on any premises that the dealer uses to buy, sell, store, shred, melt, cut or otherwise alter scrap metal.
The metal dealer must record a complete description of the metal purchased, including weight and description; the date, time, and place of the purchase; at least one form of identification and the seller's signature on a certificate stating that he has the legal right to sell the scrap metal or junk in accordance with scrap metal recycling industry standards.
They must also record the name and residence of each person selling the regulated metal; their vehicle type and license plate number, if applicable; the price per pound and the amount paid for each type of metal purchased by the dealer; a digital photograph or still video of the seller, taken at the time of the sale, or a clearly legible photocopy of the seller's identification.
Washington state's new law makes a connection between rising scrap-metal thefts and illegal drug use. The law makes it a misdemeanor for any scrap-metal dealer to knowingly do business with a person who has been convicted of theft or crimes involving methamphetamine.
Businesses also have to obtain the seller's driver's license number, cell phone number, home address, the description of the seller's vehicle and its license plate number.
No firm or corporation can barter, purchase, exchange, buy or accept any secondhand grooved or figure-eight copper trolley wire, bare or insulated heavy stranded copper or aluminum feeder wire, high voltage copper or aluminum transmission wire, or bare or insulated mining machine copper cables from any person except the manufacturer or authorized agent of that metal.
Any scrap metal dealer who knowingly or with fraudulent intent violates any provision of this law, including failure to make a report or the knowing falsification of any required information, is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction of a first offense thereof, shall be fined not less than $1,000 nor more than $3,000.
A second offense carries a fine of not less than $2,000 and not more than $4,000 and the suspension of their operating license for six months.
The third strike carries a fine of not less than $3,000 and not more than $5,000 and the cancellation of that person's business registration certificate.
In Wisconsin, a scrap metal purchaser must collect and maintain identification from sellers, along with records containing information specific to each sale.
A scrap metal dealer who knowingly violates these laws and who has not knowingly committed a previous violation of these laws is subject to a fine of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 90 days, or both.
A scrap metal dealer who knowingly breaks these laws a second time is subject to a fine of up to $10,000 or imprisonment not to exceed nine months, or both.
A third offense is charged as a Class I felony.