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Metal thefts increase throughout Detroit

Authorities throughout Detroit, Michigan, and the surrounding metro area are bemoaning the increases in larceny and theft of scrap metal in the area. Legislators and law enforcement officers cite examples of alleged thieves who have stolen massive crucifixes from churches, doors from mausoleums and even pieces of church roofs. It appears that little is sacred anymore in the city, which recently declared bankruptcy because of financial woes.

As a result, a new package of laws is under consideration to bring heavier penalties for scrap metal dealers who accept stolen goods. Dealers would be required to photograph the metal they receive, providing training for employees about identifying stolen metal and working in tandem with authorities to prevent such theft. Industry representatives are railing against the bills, arguing that they would pose an unfair burden for scrap-metal buyers who could easily fall into non-compliance.

The situation throughout the city continues to become more dire, as commercial property owners must mount razor wire atop their buildings to prevent the theft of air-conditioning units. Vehicle owners' catalytic converters are continually falling victim to the crimes, as well. Legislators say the bill would have protected the area's residents by providing a better paper trail to convict unscrupulous scrap metal dealers. Current regulations may be adequate for that, however, as sellers are required to provide ID, fingerprints and a signed statement. In addition, individuals who sell copper are required to be paid by check, as their metal is held for several days to provide time for potential investigations.

Legislation appears to be the only answer in a city whose police force has been decimated by budget cuts; average response time in the metro is about an hour. Law enforcement struggles to keep up with personal crimes, so property crimes must be regulated through other methods.

If you have been arrested for theft or property crimes, consider seeking the assistance of a qualified criminal defense attorney. These professionals can help you learn more about your rights and responsibilities, protecting you from arraignment through sentencing and beyond.

Source: bridgemi.com, "Metal pirates strip too much of what's left from Michigan cities, lawmakers grope for answers" Nancy Derringer, Jul. 24, 2013