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Arkansas cracks down on copper thefts

New law cracks down on copper thefts

By Tammy Curtis

March 12, 2012

Thefts of various scrap metals have increased dramatically in the area, and local law enforcement is working overtime to solve the crimes.

Local scrap yards are cracking down on the sale of stolen metal by enforcing stringent guidelines on sellers. A new law, House Bill 2119, was a result of a compromise between scrap metal recyclers and law enforcement officials to address cooper theft problems. These changes went into effect last July.

As is evident at Barbers Recycling in Batesville, employers are having to take extra time with their sellers, as they follow the guidelines to reduce thefts.

Although many continue to melt the metals down to an unrecognizable state, to prevent having to provide information about where the materials were obtained, the point of the new laws is to encourage accountability by sellers and owners of recycling centers.

As trucks come into unload their metal, they must first go into the office and provide validation of where the materials were obtained. This includes:

The law says that if the seller does not provide written documentation that satisfies the requirements listed above, the scrap metal recycler cannot purchase the metal.

However, House Bill 2119 did remove an entire section of the old law that restricted transactions involving various materials such as electrical utility, telephone, cable, or other public utility, traffic control signs, etc. These items can now be purchased as long as the new requirements are followed.

House Bill 2119 also added a new section "Theft by Receiving Scrap Metal". This section makes it a crime to receive, retain, or dispose of scrap metal owned by another person if you know the scrap metal was stolen. "Receiving" scrap metal means taking possession, control, title, or lending on the security of scrap metal. If the value of the stolen scrap metal is more than $1,000, then receiving is a felony, while receiving amounts of scrap metal worth less than $1,000 is a misdemeanor.

Under the old law, scrap metal dealers were required to keep records, which were an "accurate and legible record" of each scrap metal purchase. This law is still in place, and requires that dealers keep a record of each scrap metal purchase with information addressed in the statute. In addition, all scrap metal recyclers must file a daily electronic record of scrap metal purchases made for that day.

The daily electronic record system remains in place. However, a key change is, the additional information must be recorded. purchased as long as they follow all of the requirements detailed above.

Within six months, law enforcement will be able to see whether the new guidelines have made an impact in reducing the number of copper thefts.


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