Lawmakers Target Metal Recyclers to Stop Copper Theft

As the price of precious metals continues to raise so do the number of people willing to risk is all to steal copper.

In Florida several people have been electrocuted trying to steal copper wire from power-lines. Others have been thrown in prison.

“It’s amazing. We’ve had copper stolen off of our radio towers in Hillsborough County. We had one night were two schools were hit,” said Jim Previtera with Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office when responding to a reporter’s question “How far will criminals go to get copper?

This was a movie theater, but it had to close down after thieves stole all the copper out of the air conditioner and the owners couldn’t afford to replace it.

State law requires metal recyclers to record the name and address of everyone selling copper. They share the information with police. But loopholes in the law allow sellers to easily use fake IDs. And when buyers pay cash, it’s harder to track the seller.

The governor singed a bill to close the loopholes in April. Wednesday he invited law enforcement officers to the capitol to celebrate the changes.

“The Secondary metals bill provides some real significant tools toward holding folks accountable,” said Walton County Sheriff Mike Atkinson

The bill bans buyer from paying cash. They also have to take pictures of the items they’re buying and fingerprint the seller. And starting in July buying or selling copper will be banned before 7AM and after 6PM on weekdays.

The bill also cracks down on metal buyers at flea markets and who work out of their trucks. Now they too must follow state regulations and report their customers to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

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