New metal theft law expected to reduce illegal sales in Georgia

Local recycling centers say a new law going into effect July 1 will curb sales of stolen metals, but provisions of the law have them concerned.

Richmond County Investigator Kendall Brown, the coordinator of the CSRA Metal Theft Task Force, told an metals dealers meeting Wednesday at the Law Enforcement Center that if all the necessary forms and requirements aren’t met for each sale, their employees could face misdemeanor charges.

“You need to trust your people that are filling out these tickets and make sure they know the law or they could be taken out in handcuffs,” he said.

Michael Greenwood, the manager at CMC Recycling, said he is concerned because there are so many unanswered questions.

Law enforcement will be working with recycling centers in the area to ensure they are up to compliance by the time the law goes into effect, Brown said. He led the group of about three dozen from both recycling agencies and local law enforcement through the interpretation of Georgia House Bill 872, dubbed the Metal Theft Bill.

Mel Rasmussen, the owner of Campbell’s Recycling, attended with several of his employees. “We’re already set up to where we’re in compliance,” he said.

State Sen. Jesse Stone, who co-sponsored the legislation, said he’s excited to see the effect it has on the area. Stone said he became interested in the issue after Farm Bureau insurance sought his help because many farm irrigation systems were being stripped of their metal. Major thefts at Golden Harvest Food Bank, school systems and churches also contributed to the urgency.

“All these people came together demanding that something be done,” he said.

One of the changes Stone pushed was the requirement that a seller sign a sworn affidavit ensuring the metal was obtained legally.

One change that could have a big effect, Brown said, is that peddlers can be paid in cash only for sales from cans or batteries. All other sales will come in the form of a check, electronic funds transfer or a cash voucher, redeemable after three days.

Brown said he expects to see an increase in battery thefts and sales because of the restriction. He recommends that everyone mark their batteries for identification purposes.

Georgia House, Senate approve bill to tackle metal theft problem
Richmond County police crack down on metal thefts

CHANGES TO CURRENT LAW

• Digital photos of sellers and drivers, if different, are required to stay on file for a minimum of two years.

• Sellers may be required to provide work orders, police reports or other documentation depending on the transaction.

• Sellers must sign a sworn affidavit that the metal was not obtained illegally.

• A secondary metals recycler must obtain a permit from the sheriff’s office. Unlicensed out-of-town core buyers are no longer allowed without a permit.

• Any tools or vehicles used in the commission of the metal theft can be seized by law enforcement.

Complete text of Metal Theft Bill

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