News 12 at 11 o'clock / Saturday, April 14, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- New video surveillance, more checks and harsher punishments for thieves are all parts of House Bill 872. The CSRA's Metal Theft Task Force had a big part in getting it passed.
"It's a great thing. The law hasn't been revised since 2007, so it's been a long time coming," said Investigator Kendall Brown with the task force.
They are the only law enforcement run task force dedicated to metal theft in the state of Georgia.
"It changed drastically," Brown said. "There are a lot of amendments to the state law that will work in favor when it comes to combating metal theft."
Some of the big changes include requiring all recyclers to register with the sheriff, prohibiting the sale of burnt copper wire, not giving immediate cash for metal except cans or batteries and only allowing a licensed contractor or someone with a receipt to sell air conditioning coils.
"Unfortunately, good people have to pay the price for a drastic increase in a particular crime," Brown said. "Not everybody that scraps is scrapping something illegal or stolen; it will impact them, but if that is a legitimate sale, it won't impact them that much."
David Floer agrees. He's been selling scrap metal as a second job to try to make some extra money.
"If you're sitting at the house not doing nothing, then you're not making anything, so I just pick up scrap so I can make some extra money," he said.
He says the new bill will affect him a little but won't hurt him.
"In the long run it won't hurt us because if you're doing it legally, you're OK," he said.
Recycling yards are still working to iron out all the details. Many think the bill will help deter thefts, but there are a few amendments that will be difficult for them. For example, the video surveillance would need to be kept for two years and it could cost a lot of money to get a server large enough to hold nine hours of video every day for two years.
The bill STOL needs to be signed by the governor. If he signs it, most of the changes will take effect July 1.
Here is a list of some of the biggest changes: