EFFORT TO STOP METAL THEFT SAILS THROUGH HOUSE
By Colin A. Young STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, OCT. 14, 2015.....A bill that legislators say would help prevent theft of metals from job sites, vacant homes and public spaces easily cleared the House on Wednesday afternoon and now moves to the Senate, which passed a similar bill two years ago.
Aiming to crack down on scrap metal thieves, the bill (H 3806) creates a local registration process for scrap metal dealers and requires dealers to tag and hold items for at least 48 hours. If contacted by law enforcement about potential stolen property, the items must be held for an additional 48 hours.
"When individuals or businesses come in to sell metal -- brass, copper, whatever it may be -- the materials will be tagged and held for 48 hours to allow public safety officials to identify and track any possible stolen materials if it has been reported to them," Rep. Jennifer Benson said. "It is a common sense bill to restrict theft in this area."
She added, "We are simply enacting a common sense measure to ensure not only that private property is protected, but to help our public safety partners in doing their due diligence."
The House voted 151-0 in favor of the bill.
Benson, co-chair of the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee, said the testimony on the bill was unanimously in favor of it, and that the committee heard from police chiefs, metals dealers and even the Cranberry Growers Association, which she said told of a problem with sprinkler heads being stolen from area cranberry bogs.
Under the bill, secondary metals dealers would be required to keep a daily log of transaction details, including the name, date of birth, address and driver's license of the seller, the license plate of the vehicle being used to transport the metal, the type of metal being sold, its weight, and the sale price.
"It gives us all a level playing field on what to expect. It encourages the communication between local police and the scrap yards," Colin Kelly, director of public affairs at Everett's Schnitzer Steel Industries, said. "It presents the opportunity to understand the materials that scrap yards shouldn't be accepting and I think is something that is long overdue for the industry."
The bill specifies items that are unacceptable for dealers to receive without proper authorization, including guardrails, manhole covers, high voltage transmission line cables, cemetery plaques, contractor tools, aluminum bleachers, traffic signs and beer kegs.
The high resale price of many metals made them a common target for thieves, but Kelly told the News Service on Wednesday that prices have "decreased significantly" over the last five years.