JULY 2008

Missouri passes scrap metal theft legislation

Copper and metal thieves have ravaged Missouri homes, farms, businesses and public infrastructure and Missouri Governor Matt Blunt signed tough legislation to help law enforcement track them down.

“With copper and metal theft on the rise in our state, I asked the General Assembly to pass tough new laws aimed at putting a stop to this disturbing trend of copper and metal theft,” Governor Blunt said. “These thieves are literally tearing apart people’s homes, farms and businesses and selling off the pieces for scrap.”

Senate Bill 1034 improves record keeping for the sale of metals to scrap dealers and others and will give law enforcement greater leads to protect Missourians from the growing problem of copper and metal theft.

The new law also prohibits scrap dealers from purchasing metal that can be identified as belonging to local governments without specific authorization including traffic signal boxes, street signs, manhole covers, guardrails and bleacher seats removed from local parks. Scrap dealers are also prohibited from buying metal beer kegs unless they are sold by the brewer.

Copper and metal theft is on the rise across the nation and in Missouri. Driven by increasing costs for the metals, thieves are capitalizing on prices that are approximately five times what they were just four years ago. In Missouri, for example, two men from Independence are suspected of stealing more than 16,000 pounds of material from an Army munitions plant. An attentive scrap dealer helped put an end to this scheme.

This month, a Missouri university was targeted as thieves stole an estimated $100,000 worth of copper from the construction site for a new dormitory at Lincoln University in Jefferson City.

Missouri homeowners have also been hurt. These criminals have gone home to home stripping copper wiring, pipes and tubing which in addition to costly damages, creates the risk of flooding, fires and the potential electrocution of those fixing the problem.