House Bill could help stop metal thefts in Ga.

By: Hope Jensen Email
By: Hope Jensen Email
Metal thefts

(WRDW-TV / Jan. 5, 2012)

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:

  • All recyclers, fixed site and transient, must register with their sheriff.
  • Recyclers will eventually be required to submit certain purchase information to law enforcement daily (this requires state funding first).
  • Digital or video image will be required of bulk load being sold and the face of the seller.
  • Peddlers will not be allowed to be paid immediate cash for all scrap metal except aluminum cans and batteries.
  • Payment must be made to peddlers by check, electronic funds transfer or provided with a cash voucher. The voucher may be redeemed for cash after three days.
  • There will be a ban on the purchase of burned copper, unless by a permitted incinerator, or if a police report is provided of an accidental fire.
  • The sale of copper-aluminum air conditioning coils will be limited to certain licensed contractors or with a receipt that a HVAC unit has been replaced. Window air conditioners are exempt.
  • There will be restrictions and documentation required as to who may be able to sell cemetery brass, bronze and other burial objects.
  • Business-to-business transactions will be exempt, but substantial documentation will be required.
  • There will be additional documentation required for recycler-to-recycler transactions to ensure that Georgia law was followed by all parties.
  • There will be additional documentation required in the purchase of trailers -- involving titles or affidavits (House Bill 900).
  • Recyclers will be forbidden to cashing their own checks on premises or using ATMs for instant cash redemption.
  • Regarding pre-emption -- local governments may enact land use, planning and zoning and occupational tax certificates and regulatory fees dealing with recyclers.
  • There will be additional penalties for convicted metal thieves.
  • There will be changes to the procedure for buying scrap motor vehicles, including online verification that the vehicle is not stolen or having an outstanding security interest.


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