TOPEKA — In an effort to cut down on metal theft and the damage it does to utilities and other businesses, the state Senate today approved a bill to require scrap dealers to register with their local government and keep detailed records on customers.
House Bill 2312 also establishes strict eligibility requirements for scrap dealers and specifies that scrap yards cannot accept wire of the type used by utilities if the identifying sheathing is burned or stripped away.
It also changes the calculation of penalties for metal theft. At present, the cost of the crime is based on the value of the stolen metal. Under HB 2312, it would be based on the cost of restoring the damage to the property.
“The amount of monetary damage and crime level goes up accordingly,” which in many cases would lead to tougher sentences, said Sen. Pete Brungardt, R-Salina, who carried the bill on the floor.
The bill’s provisions require that scrap dealers keep a dossier of information on customers who sell more than $50 worth of scrap, including: name, address, sex, date of birth and a copy of the person’s driver’s license or other government-issued identification. In some cases, a thumbprint would be required.
Dealers would be required to use a prenumbered check or an electronic payment system that photographs the seller when buying more than $35 worth of copper, air conditioning parts or car catalytic converters — forms of metal that are frequently targeted by thieves.
Dealers would also be required to record the license number, color and style or make of the vehicle used to deliver the scrap.
“There becomes a paper trail for law enforcement should they wish to pursue theft,” Brungardt said.
Today, the Senate slightly amended the bill to ease restrictions on spouses and children of felons, who would have been barred along with their convicted relative from working in the scrap business. Under the amendment, the spouses and children would be banned only if their relative was convicted of a crime related to metal theft.
It will now go back for the House to decide whether to accept the Senate amendments.