Klobuchar introduces legislation in light of metal theftsPublished 4:15pm Tuesday, December 4, 2012
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., introduced bipartisan legislation last week to crack down on what some say is a growing problem: metal theft.
Metal theft has increased more than 80 percent in recent years, according to National Insurance Crime Bureau. Thieves steal high-priced metal from critical infrastructure, businesses, homes, churches and even Minnesota veterans’ graves, causing families pain and threatening public safety. The Metal Theft Prevention Act aims to reduce metal thefts and make it harder for thieves to sell stolen metal. Senators Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, and Chuck Schumer, D-New York, are cosponsors of the bill.
“These thieves will stop at nothing to get this high-priced metal and make a quick buck,” Klobuchar said. “This legislation will crack down on metal thieves, helping put them behind bars and make it more difficult for them to sell their stolen goods.”
Between 2009 and 2011, the National Insurance Crime Bureau found more than 25,000 insurance claims related to metal theft, an increase of 81 percent over claims made between 2006 and 2008. In a recent study, the U.S. Department of Energy found the total value of damages to industries affected by the theft of copper wire would likely exceed more than $900 million each year.
According to a Minnesota Public Radio report, the rise in metal thefts in Mankato has contributed to its highest burglary rate in years, and in Isanti County thieves stole more than 200 brass stars from veterans’ graves.
The Metal Theft Prevention Act calls for enforcement by the Attorney General and gives state attorneys general the ability to bring civil action to enforce the provisions of the legislation. The bill makes it an explicit federal crime to steal metal from critical infrastructure and contains a “Do Not Buy” provision which bans scrap metal dealers from buying certain items. As a result of the bill, scrap metal dealers would be required to keep detailed records of secondary metal purchases for two years and make them available to law enforcement agencies. The bill would also require that purchases of scrap metal over $100 be done by check instead of cash, to further help law enforcement track thieves.