Senator Schumer Proposes “Metal Theft Legislation”
“U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called for a crackdown on the recent rash of scrap metal theft on Long Island that threatens private property, local residents, and taxpayers. Due to the high price of iron, copper, and other metals in the market, Long Island has seen a number of scrap metal burglaries and larcenies in the area, including thefts of bleachers and playground equipment, manhole covers, items to decorate gravesites, and much more. Thieves then sell that metal for fast cash at metal yards. Schumer’s proposal would attack this growing problem in many practical ways: 1.) require documentation that those selling metal to recyclers own the metal or are authorized to sell it; 2.) require recyclers to keep detailed records for purchases of metal; 3.) cap the amount at $100 in cash that recyclers can pay for scrap metal; 4.) create a specific federal crime of stealing metal from critical infrastructure, and more. Schumer, who cosponsors this legislation with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), highlighted that metal theft can cause serious danger to school children, commuters, first responders, and local residents, as these thieves can cause fires when utilizing blow torches to remove metal and can seriously compromise the integrity of public facilities.
“It is time to put thieves who steal scrap metal from Long Island schools, streets, and even gravesites behind ironclad bars,” said Schumer. “This practical plan will combat this rash of metal theft by requiring recyclers to keep detailed documentation of metal purchases, capping the amount of cash recyclers can pay for scrap metal, ensuring that those selling metal are authorized to do so, and by making metal theft a federal crime.”
“Scrap metal theft has become an epidemic as the price being paid for metal, particularly copper, goes up,” said District Attorney Thomas Spota. “This is a problem without an easy solution. Senator Schumer’s proposal will put common sense regulations in place to address this dilemma.”
“Senator Schumer’s proposed legislation will provide our law enforcement agencies with another tool to combat scrap metal theft that threatens the hard working people of our great county,” said Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano. “In addition, stealing from critical infrastructure can pose serious safety hazards and create needless expenses for our taxpayers. This legislation will now make it a federal crime which will help serve as a deterrent.”
“The last three months, we’ve seen a tremendous increase in manhole cover thefts in Huntington,” said Highway Superintendent William Naughton. “These thefts cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars and create an enormous public safety risk. The Town of Huntington welcomes any assistance the Senator can provide to help alleviate this growing problem.”
In the last year, there have been a number of incidents of metal theft on Long Island, including school bleachers and playground equipment, manhole covers, items to decorate gravesites, and much more. In one disturbing story, a bronze flower vase at a cemetery in Farmingdale had been stolen from the same grave 3 times. And over 160 graves at two Farmingdale cemeteries have been desecrated. Huntington alone has seen over 19 manhole covers stolen over the previous months, which not only cost tax payers thousands, but also put residents at risk of falls of 20-30 feet. And earlier in the year, a Hemsptead school had all of its playground equipment stolen.
“According to local police departments, in total, there were 243 reported instances of metal theft in Nassau County in the last 12 months, and 770 incidents in Suffolk County since January 1st 2012. (Please note that the statistics from the two counties may not be directly comparable since they are over different time periods and the crimes are reported in different ways.)
“Schumer’s Metal Theft Prevention Act is aimed at deterring thieves from procuring and selling stolen metal goods. As a baseline measure, it makes stealing metal from critical infrastructure a federal crime. The act also includes stringent documentation requirements for sellers, and recordkeeping requirements for recyclers who buy scrap metal.
“Schumer’s plan stipulates that for those who sell scrap metal, the documentation requirement will indicate whether they own and/or are authorized to sell their metal, and only applies to metal products that would likely be owned by government entities or companies, and not private citizens. For recyclers, the record keeping requirement would mandate that they keep basic records of all purchases, such as the date of the purchase, a description of the metal, the amount paid, and the name and address of the seller. In addition, Schumer’s metal theft legislation states that recyclers may not pay over $100 in cash for metal. Above $100, scrap metal sellers will have to be paid by check, aside from established commercial transactions. The provisions of the bill can be enforced by both the U.S. Attorney General and state attorneys general. The U.S. Sentencing Commission is directed to review and make any necessary changes to ensure that the penalties laid out in the guidelines appropriately reflect the serious nature of metal theft.