Copper Thefts Still Problem, Region 8 Counties Want Federal Help

Forrest City, AR (KAIT)- St. Francis County Sheriff, Bobby May, has seen his fair share of copper thefts in and around his county. He says nothing's off limits to these thieves.

"One school in Earle has lost 13 air conditioners in the last six months," said May.

He wants to make life a little more difficult for copper thieves by pushing for federal regulations for salvage yards, some of which are buyers of copper.

May says even though some buyers may suspect they're getting "hot" copper, more often than not they look the other way.

"All of us have rules and regulations," he said. "Salvage yards shouldn't be any different."

Those rules would include a law that drivers license and tag numbers be collected by salvage yards. Another law would require them to wait a period of seven days before paying for scrap metal.

That payment would have to be made by check through the mail to a valid address.

May says even though the state of Arkansas could enact its own legislation, involvement at the federal level is critical.

"What's keeping these thieves from crossing state lines?" he said. "They don't respect state and county lines."

Some companies with a stake in keeping their copper say it's a step in the right direction.

"Legislation that would make it harder for criminals to sell the copper wire would be beneficial to us all," said Bill Martin III, President and CEO of Woodruff Electric.

A meeting was held Tuesday night at the Forrest City Civic Center, where legislative representatives, sheriff's from more than five counties, and citizens voiced concerns.

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