New laws cracking down on selling copper for scrap

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Scrap metal theft is still going strong, and Arkansas lawmakers are trying to stop it.

Craighead County Sheriff Jack McCann says the new laws don't seem to have changed much.

"It's getting worse. The prices are up and they are stealing everything they can get their hands on."

About a month ago the new administration building for the Streets and Sanitation Department in Jonesboro  was robbed of all the wire from breaker boxes and the lead in wiring. The cost, $11 Thousand to replace and it put completion back about 3 weeks.

KFVS in Missouri with the Raycom News Network reported  Monday that one man was electrocuted and his partner critically injured as they were trying to steal wire from an closed factory building in Murphysboro, Illinois. One other person was arrested at the scene.

For obvious reasons most copper and scrap thefts occur at night.

"We keep units out all we can trying to catch them." McCann said. "And we have managed to catch several of them but it hasn't slowed them down any." Many of the thefts occur on farm properties. Center-Pivot Sprinkler systems have large amounts of copper wiring and electric motors.

House Bill 2119 passed last year says scrap sellers must now have photo I. D., a location where the copper or scrap came from and in many instances a fingerprint. Also a photograph of the scrap may be required.

But Sheriff McCann says it's not enough. "Not enough teeth!" he says.

In fact the situation has gotten so critical that Sheriff McCann is calling for a meeting of Northeast Arkansas  and at least 1 Missouri Bootheel Sheriff to address the problem.

McCann, "We're all going to get together and see if we can agree on what we need to do, and if we can all pass the same county ordinance."

McCann says if all counties are on the same page, it will make it harder for thieves to county hop. Missouri laws are not as strict as Arkansas so it may force the thieves to head North offering more opportunities to get caught.

Among the ideas that will be discussed is a plan that is used at Memphis scrap dealers.

McCann, "What we're looking at primarily is delaying the payment for 10 days or whatever."

The big problem may be getting all the scrap dealers to get on board. Currently copper is worth about 3 dollars a pound with regular scrap metal selling for about $10.50 for a hundred pounds.

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