Anti-theft legislation proves burdensome
to scrap recyclers
Delaware and Pennsylvania draft
scrap metal theft legislation by Irwin Rapoport
The states of Delaware and Pennsylvania
both have anti-theft legislation
for ferrous and nonferrous metals.
The Institute of Scrap Recycling
Industries’ Mid-Atlantic Chapter
(ISRI-MAC) was involved with the
negotiations. ISRI-MAC stressed the
need for lobbying on behalf of the
scrap metal industry to ensure that
the regulations put in place are
effective but put the least onerous
conditions upon scrap metal dealers.
In the case of Delaware, the scrap
metal industry was initially excluded.
“We didn’t have much of an opportunity
in the first round because the legislators
were very set on passing something,”
said Rick Allan, executive director
for ISRI-MAC, “but in this last round,
we were able to get an amendment
changed to provide relief for the
The change from an 18-day hold to
a 7-day hold, the key issue, was
achieved through the support of four
ISRI-MAC member companies and many
scrap processors and dismantlers.
Requests for legislation were made
two and a half years ago by the state
police as a means of helping them
reduce a growing number of scrap
metal thefts. The legislation - HB
635 - was passed in June 2006. It
required that certain record keeping
be done such as recording addresses,
descriptions of materials and other
standard regulations found in most
What really irked the scrap dealers
was the 18-day hold. ISRI-MAC had
met with Governor Ruth Ann Minner
to discuss the issue, but was unable
to secure changes.
“The legislators weren’t receptive
to our explanations of how it was
going to affect us adversely,” said
The law was passed but until amended
in June 2008, it had no effect on
scrap yard operations.
“In that interim period we were told
that nothing was being done,” said
Allan, “but then last April we were
told that the state police had written
ISRI-MAC made it a point to maintain
the lines of communications with
the police to ensure that its concerns
would be addressed in the new regulations.
“The state police were very receptive
to amending the holding period. They
were also willing to let us use certain
reporting forms, if they were pre-approved,”
said Allan. The ISRI amendments –
the hold period and use of pre-approved
reporting forms – were approved by
the State Senate at the behest of
a senator who realized the implications
of the longer hold period.
Pennsylvania introduced its legislation
in May 2006, but it was not enacted
until June 2008.
“In February/March of 2006, Rep.
Scott Boyd asked if I would consider
working with him to draft something
that would be agreeable to our industry,”
he said. “We provided all of ISRI’s
practices and procedures, which had
a menu of options of what works best
for your particular company and minimizes
your exposure to buy potentially
The options included installing video
cameras to record sellers, their
driver’s licenses and other records.
While discussions started out well,
because of a change in leadership,
the draft bill was transferred to
Rep. Eddie Pashinski, who re-wrote
the draft legislation several times.
Allan worked with Pashinski, the
sponsor of the bill, as well as other
legislators when the bill was introduced.
Concerns about thefts were coming
from the utility, construction, business
and residential sectors.
“For the typical reasons,” said Allan,
“There was a misconception in these
states that we didn’t maintain records.
We explained that we do keep track
of our inventory.
“It reached the point where it was
unworkable and very confusing – even
terms weren’t accurate. We asked
that they use national and international
terms used by the industry,” he added.
“This dragged on for six months before
they had the hearing where I testified.
We took the position that we didn’t
oppose legislation - we simply wanted
to make sure that it could be implemented
by our members without too much aggravation.
“The sponsor of the bill was intent
on getting this done and had put
out negative misinformation about
the industry,” he said. “It ended
up that it was our industry against
probably every type of building industry
sector and utility companies. They
even brought in service organizations
to support the legislation.”
This did not deter ISRI-MAC, which
had worked with national organizations
on similar issues.
Success was achieved upon Senate
committee review. The legislation
input the ISRI-MAC led compromise
and the Governor signed the bill
into law in October.
Allan said it is important to educate
all parties about the scrap industry
and above all, to be persistent and
not give up.
“They were educated to the point
where they learned a lot about the
industry and we showed them how we
can account for every pound of metal
that was brought in to us,” he says.
Maryland is now in the process of
drafting anti-theft legislation,
having taken over the issue from
the City of Baltimore, which was
drafting its own legislation.
Allan has already spoken with state
legislators about the bill and negotiations
about the language have begun.
Scott Sherr, president of Diamond
State Recycling in Wilmington, Delaware,
opposed the 18-day hold rule and
took his concerns to Governor Minner.
“I gave her an idea of the volume
that I did – 20,000 to 30,000 pounds
a day,” he says. “For me to hold
the material, you would need to have
a warehouse the size of two football
fields, and security measures that
would greatly outnumber and out cost
what the industries are losing through
“And with a little more protection
of somebody else’s material,” he
added, “the construction companies
could lock up their buildings or
put on a security guard. The state
police were the first to admit they
only needed three days because if
they couldn’t identify the material
during that time, the hold couldn’t
do them any good.”
Sherr also purchases scrap from other
dealers and did not appreciate the
thought of having to hold onto that
scrap for an additional 18 days.
The Governor told Sherr that the
issue was out of her hands and that
he would have to effect changes on
his own. Later on in the process,
Sherr met with State Treasurer Jack
Markell (now Governor Elect), who
helped him by providing essential
Sherr did not appreciate the state
labeling scrap dealers as criminals.
“They made a law and assumed that
we were the criminals,” he says,
stressing that the situation could
have been avoided from the start
had the state consulted the industry.