New law attempts to deter copper theft
Now, scrap metal recycling centers across the state will serve as the first line of defense against copper thieves.
That metal is a favorite of criminals for how easy it is to access and sell.
Thieves stealing copper from construction sites, utility firms, homes, and churches have been an ongoing problem and reported nearly every day.
The new law takes into account not only the value of the stolen metal, but also the cost of repairs, when determining the type of felony that has been committed.
It also bans recycling centers from paying cash for the copper, scrap dealers will have to take a video or digital photo of the seller together with the metal he or she is selling.
Recyclers must also keep a copy of the seller’s ID, and records will have to be kept at least two years and made available to law enforcement upon request.
The new law is welcomed by North Carolina electric cooperatives.
“North Carolina’s electric cooperatives supported the legislation and through a grassroots effort worked to help pass the legislation,” said Brandon Reed, grassroots specialist at The North Carolina Association of Electric Cooperatives. Co-ops were part of a wide-ranging coalition that also included district attorneys and homebuilders.
The statewide association surveyed its 26 members and found “numerous instances of copper theft,” Reed said.
“Copper was stolen from substations, poles, trucks and just about anywhere else in the system it could be found,” Reed said. “The survey showed that electric cooperatives in North Carolina suffered more than $1 million in damage as a result of copper theft in 2011.”
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