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Michigan legislature hopes to curb metal theft

Long-pending legislation has just been approved by the Michigan legislature to cut down on illegal metal sales and robbery. The measure, which passed the Michigan House in early November, is designed to prevent the metal theft that has been causing rifts in communities throughout the state. In fact, legislators say that insurance claims related to metal theft in Michigan and the Detroit area are among the highest in the nation, costing crime victims thousands each week.

The legislation passed despite the protests of scrap metal operators, many of whom saw the new provisions as too cumbersome and harmful to their business practices. Those operators say they are already working as hard as possible to prevent the theft, but the legislation will force them to take even more comprehensive steps.

The new legislation is designed to protect building owners, farmers and other business operators who use vulnerable metal equipment. It requires scrap metal buyers to photograph incoming batches of scrap metal. In addition, cash transactions will be limited for certain commonly stolen items. Those include catalytic converters, copper wire and even air conditioners. Other provisions require sellers to provide a listed address so they can be tracked by law enforcement authorities.

Not only are business owners at risk because of the widespread theft; the general public can suffer when scrap metal is taken from inappropriate places. Consider the fact that manhole covers, stop signs, guard rails and even phone lines are often pilfered for cash in both rural and urban districts. Those important safety measures are necessary to protect all Michigan residents.

Prevention measures such as this legislation can stop crimes before they even start. If Michigan residents see too much risk in stealing scrap metal, wire and other commodities, the thefts might actually start to decrease. In this way, the legal system can protect vulnerable populations from being enticed into criminal activities. A comprehensive set of legal guidelines can remove the motivation for theft, which can reduce the number of Michigan residents arrested for theft and property crimes.

Source: www.mlive.com, "Metal theft crackdown: Recycling regulations to curb illegal scrapping clear Michigan House" Jonathan Oosting, Oct. 31, 2013

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