Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., right, talks with Austinites at Perkins during a meet-and-greet in Austin Monday. -- Kevin Coss/

Klobuchar: Metal thefts escalating

Published 11:25am Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sen. Amy Klobuchar is out to quash thieves’ iron will.

Klobuchar, D-Minn., spoke at Nietz Electric Inc. in Rochester and later greeted Austinites at the local Perkins to discuss her recently-introduced Metal Theft Prevention Act. The legislation aims to fight metal theft, a growing problem nationwide.

“It literally has been escalating for years,” Klobuchar said, adding rural areas were especially likely targets for thefts.

Metal theft has increased 81 percent nationally between 2006 and 2008, and 2009 and 2011, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The NICB also found more than 25,000 insurance claims related to metal theft between 2009 and 2011.

Sheriff Terese Amazi said Mower County is no exception to high metal theft figures. The crime is driven by the price per pound of material metals.

“There’s still a hefty price tag on copper and aluminum,” said Amazi, noting some people will go into old houses and strip copper piping out to sell it. “They think it’s junk and they’re going to go clean it out.”

The law would make it harder for metal thieves to sell stolen materials, Klobuchar said, by making it a federal offense to steal metal from critical infrastructure. It would also force sellers to be paid by check and require them to register as metal dealers. Senators Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, and Chuck Schumer, D-New York, are cosponsors of the bipartisan bill. Klobuchar is lobbying for the bill to reach the Senate floor.

Metal thefts include stealing copper piping from buildings, driving off with stolen raw materials and removing bronze stars from veterans’ graves. Churches, businesses, homes and infrastructure have all fallen victim. In some cases, metal theft can prove dangerous, especially when a thief tampers with pipes.

“[Workers] go into a work site and they don’t know the piping is out,” Klobuchar said. “It could explode.”

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates the total value of damages exceeds $900 million a year.

“These thieves will stop at nothing to get this high-priced metal and make a quick buck,” Klobuchar said in a news release. “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.”

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  • Guest

    A small amount compared to the 2% increase in payroll taxes. Do something about that!

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    • LEXXfan

      Huh? So, you are for Social Security going bankrupt much sooner than originally calculated?? The payroll taxes are returning to the REGULAR rate that they were at prior to 2011 when they were unwisely cut. We’ve got a $16+ trillion dollar federal debt, and you want to put the Social Security Administration into debt too? You gotta stop drinking that Rush Limbaugh Kool-Aid. Rush has $400 million in the bank, so of course he doesn’t care what happens to Social Security. You should, and so should everyone else who isn’t well off. If you are well off, then shame on you for being a cheap a##.

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      • Guest

        Lex, again you are still in your make believe world in your Mom’s basement. No where in your statement do you talk about any spending cuts. keep your hand out and Obama will keep filling it. BTW where are your Democrat billionaires with their money? Buffet talks a good game then pays hundreds of thousands to accountants and lawyers to get him out of paying taxes. Obama has millions in the bank also thanks to fools like you. Take a look at the money the Dems in the House and Senate have, they are not using it to help anyone but themselves. They are playing you like a fool. BTW, get off MSNBC if the only thing you can come up with is Rush. Don’t worry your checks will still be in the mail for the next four years, but someday there won’t be any more to tax.

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