Metal Theft

Written by David Green.

Thefts of copper and other valuable metals would be drastically reduced under legislation passed by the Michigan Senate.

“Copper thieves have targeted the agricultural community with many farmers losing thousands of dollars in equipment,” said state representative Cameron Brown, a co-sponsor of the bill. “The 16th District in particular has been especially hard hit by damage to irrigation systems. It is time to get tough on those committing these crimes.”

Senate Bill 1114 would establish new penalties for stealing copper and other metals. Penalties would be assessed based on the value of the property stolen. This includes the replacement cost of the stolen metal, the cost of repairing the damage caused by the theft, or the total of both of these amounts, whichever is greatest.

SB 1358 would create the Nonferrous Metal Regulatory Act to establish requirements for dealers and sellers of valuable metals and prescribe penalties for violations.

Sellers would be required to present the dealer with a picture ID, allow the dealer to make a photocopy of it and also allow the dealer to make a thumbprint for identification and investigation purposes.

Under the legislation, dealers would be required to:

• Create an accurate, legible record of each purchase transaction and retain the database for at least a year;

• Register with or subscribe to an Internet-based database available to dealers, law enforcement agencies and general public that lists and tracks thefts of nonferrous metal and articles containing nonferrous metals; and

● Pay a seller by check, electronic transfer, ATM card or bar code, or other method capable of being traced from the dealer to the seller.

Buying or selling nonferrous metal articles, if it was known they were stolen, would be a felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of $5,000.

“These bills will make it that much harder for criminals to profit from stealing valuable metals and give law enforcement more tools to help deal with this growing crime,” Brown said.

The bills now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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