Sheriff responds after bill to fight metal theft fails

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A bill that aimed to cut down copper thefts in Arkansas was shot down in the legislature this week.

Though that particular bill failed, Craighead County Sheriff, Marty Boyd hopes legislators can still make a change to crack down on copper thefts.

"We're combating this problem daily," Boyd told Region 8 News. "We're not by ourselves. It's every law enforcement agency in Arkansas."

Sheriff Boyd explained that House Bill 1414 looked to combat the problem by making it difficult for convicted thieves to sell to scrap metal dealers.

"Before they were issued a permit, they'd have to come to the local law enforcement agency and local law enforcement agency could inspect the property they were wanting to sell," Boyd explained.

He also said the bill would have required frequent scrap metal sellers to get a permit. "You didn't have to get a permit if you were an occasional seller, which I think stipulated selling 1 to 3 times a year as long as you had an ID and tax record," Boyd said.

The bill would also ensure scrap metal recyclers kept daily logs of who was selling them the nonferrous metals.

However, the bill was shot down and Boyd was in Little Rock when the bill failed in committee.

"The feeling that I got was that they thought this was too restrictive."

Boyd said he thinks legislators felt this would deter legitimate people from selling scrap metal. However, Boyd said deterrence is something they need.

"That's our goal, stop it in the first place," Boyd said.

Boyd said to deter copper thieves, he feels a bill should contain a deferred payment clause, something that wasn't in HB 1414. By adding in deferred payments, Boyd said law enforcement would then have the time to investigate the legitimacy of the scrap metal and keep thieves from easy getting that easy money.

"They don't want a savings account," Boyd said. "They want money in hand."

Though HB 1414 didn't pass, Boyd told Region 8 News a local representative has mentioned submitting a bill that might not be viewed as restrictive as HB 1414. Regardless, he said something has to change.

"We can choose now to do nothing and keep doing what we're doing or try to work and be proactive and pass some new laws that would benefit all of us."

Legislators have until Monday to submit a bill to the Arkansas legislature.

Region 8 News will update you if a similar bill is submitted.

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