Copper Theft

Metal Theft Bill Clears Senate Panel

By Michael W. Kahn | ECT Staff Writer Published: June 18th, 2013

A federal copper theft bill heads to the full Senate now that the Senate Judiciary Committee has approved it.

A Senate panel cleared a federal metal theft bill aimed at preventing crimes such as this theft of copper pipes in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (Photo By: AP Photo/The Citizens’ Voice, Warren Ruda)

A Senate panel cleared a federal metal theft bill aimed at preventing crimes such as this theft of copper pipes in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (Photo By: AP Photo/The Citizens’ Voice, Warren Ruda)

NRECA is among those supporting the bipartisan Metal Theft Prevention Act, S. 394. The bill would make it a federal crime to steal certain metals, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Among the list of covered metals is “a wire or cable commonly used by communications and electrical utilities.”

Scrap dealers would be required to keep records of metal purchases, including a description of the items, the amount paid, and the seller’s name, address and license plate number.

Sellers would have to prove they own the material or have the legal right to dispose of it. Any purchase of more than $100 would have to be paid by check.

“This is an important step forward for this legislation,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said following the committee’s June 13 approval.

“I will continue to work with law enforcement and local officials to crack down on metal thieves and make it more difficult for them to sell their stolen goods,” added Klobuchar, the bill’s chief sponsor.

The U.S. attorney general would be responsible for enforcement, but the legislation would also not pre-empt state and local metal theft laws. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the bill “creates common-sense safeguards to prevent resale without interfering with states’ rights to prosecute.”

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