AUGUST 2009

Scrap metals industry representative testifies before senate subcommittee

Mark Lewon, vice president of operations for Utah Metal Works of Salt Lake City, testified before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs, voicing support for the scrap recycling industry’s cooperative/collaborative approach to combating the problem of metal theft.

“Rather than simply restating state laws that have been enacted over the past few years and which have not proven effective, we support efforts to craft national legislation that builds on successful strategies including cooperation and communication amongst all stakeholders,” Lewon stated. “Ultimately focusing efforts on preventing the crime will better serve victims and communities.”

Lewon, also speaking on behalf of the 1550 members of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI), continued by stating, “ISRI members are seriously committed to reducing metal theft. In 2006, ISRI developed Recommended Best Management Practices, which guide our members on how to identify stolen property, document their purchases, validate identity, install cameras in the scrap yard, and catch thieves. In cooperation with law enforcement, ISRI has pioneered the use of collaborative coalitions of victims, law enforcement, prosecutors, and recyclers to prevent the crime or to catch a thief. No technique works better than this one. I work closely with a coalition in Salt Lake City and County. Crime is down and we catch and prosecute thieves.”

“ISRI members recognize their key role in addressing metal theft. After all, we are the experts in scrap metal recycling. There are no easy solutions. What our expertise has taught us, however, is that the best way to approach the crime of metal theft is through communication between recyclers, law enforcement, victims and prosecutors. Much more than a metal theft statute, that’s what it takes.”

“Metal theft will not stop simply by banning the customary use of cash. Further regulating us doesn’t stop a thief who will find an underground way to move his contraband. As much as we would like to believe it so, simply enacting new laws won’t cause resource-strapped law enforcement agencies to suddenly make metal theft a priority. Nor will it cause prosecutors to go after thieves. Nor will it stop thieves from crossing state lines unless you include a preemption provision in a bill that takes away their incentive to do so.”

“The scrap recycling industry looks forward to developing a national solution to this problem with all the stakeholders.”