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Supervisors Vote to Back Legislation Targeting Metal Thieves

In recent years, thieves have targeted fire hydrants, manhole covers, air-conditioning units, underground street light connections, backflow valves and other devices to steal brass and copper fittings.

The Coachella Valley Water District says thefts of metal devices owned and operated by the agency are at historically high levels.
The Coachella Valley Water District says thefts of metal devices owned and operated by the agency are at historically high levels.
Riverside County supervisors this week supported two state Assembly bills targeting metal theft.

"It's a scourge, and we're still trying to figure out ways to stop it," said Supervisor John Benoit, who advocated that the Board of Supervisors back Assembly Bills 2312 and 2313, both sponsored by Assemblyman Brian Nestande, R-Palm Desert. "These are important, innovative steps aimed at stopping this type of crime."

Under AB 2312, all scrap metal dealers in California would be required to sign up to receive notifications from the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries' theft database. The online repository sends messages to recyclers whenever thefts have been reported by law enforcement in a specific region, generally within a 100-mile radius of wherever the dealer is located.

"As the market for stolen scrap metals decreases, so, too, will the incentives for thieves to continue with future crimes," Benoit said in a resolution supporting the legislation. "The database would provide a powerful deterrent as thieves realize that scrap metal recycling centers are aware of their stolen goods, thus increasing the chances of being caught and brought to justice."

State law prohibits recyclers and other scrap dealers from accepting any device, or part thereof, unless the seller can prove -- with authenticated documents -- that the item has been approved for sale by a public agency or utility. Fines imposed on violators can range up to $3,000.

The law also requires that sellers show identification during a transaction, and that dealers record the information and make it available to law enforcement for scrutiny.

AB 2313 calls for the formation of a Metal Theft Task Force, supervised by the California Department of Justice.

"The task force would distribute grants to regional and local law enforcement agencies for use in combating metal theft crimes," according to Benoit.
Funding would be derived by assessing a 1 percent fee on every sales transaction at a scrap metal business.

In recent years, thieves have targeted fire hydrants, manhole covers, air-conditioning units, underground street light connections, backflow valves and other devices to steal brass and copper fittings.

AB 2312 is under review by the Assembly Committee on Business, Professions and Consumer Protection. AB 2313 has not yet been referred to a committee for analysis.


– City News Service.
Alek J Hidell March 14, 2014 at 11:59 PM
Where I grew up? the job of the police is to save the criminals from the locals who are beating them to death, slowly and most painfully. want the crime to stop here? do the same. The difference between USA and Indonesia?--here the dead bodies they find in the dirt are all victims of crime--over there they are the criminals...
Joseph Morabito March 15, 2014 at 10:47 AM
Jeremiah, I've never tried to buy a case of sudafed at Rite-Aid. Like the well known documentary, Breaking Bad, illustrated: Sudafed (or substitutes) can be obtained, but not like they could have been in the past. Same with certain fertilizers since the OKC bombing. When it comes to metal recycling, I have no idea how it works. I was saying that if the feds/state want to turn their attention to it, that will make this kind of crime more difficult and less profitable. I didn't mean to suggest that the crime would be eliminated. Laws don't eliminate crimes, they just make them onerous.
Antonio March 15, 2014 at 12:10 PM
The dealers don't have an incentive to not purchase the metal whether stolen or not. The dealers can mostly tell if a seller is a tweaker/criminal. I would suggest law enforcement stage stings on metal recyclers to see which recycler is actually following the law.

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