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Grand Rapids area businesses push for tighter laws against scrap metal theft

Local businesses affected by scrap metal theft support new proposed legislation.
Local businesses affected by scrap metal theft support new proposed legislation.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Grand Rapids businesses are pushing for an expansion of the Michigan’s Nonferrous Metal Regulatory Act. The Act currently regulates the sale of scrap nonferrous metals such as copper, aluminum, nickel tin zinc and lead. The proposed expansion would include ferrous metals, like iron and steel.

The legislation couldn’t come soon enough for Grand Rapids area businesses that are regular targets of scrap metal theft. Area public utilities, farms and cemeteries frequently experience the random disappearance of metal parts.

CSX, which owns a railroad yard located in Grand Rapids, has been experiencing rampant theft of parts and materials placed temporarily in the railroad right-of-way locations. Heavy steel counterweights on cross arms have been stolen. Including steel in the proposed Act will make it harder for thieves to get away with scrapping railroad counterweights.

Under the proposed law, commonly stolen metal items will require a three-day waiting period for payment. In addition, scrap dealers will be prohibited from paying in cash; payment must be traceable.

The recording requirements will include capturing images of the seller, the material being sold, and of the transaction. The proposed law encourages scrap dealers to use a real-time database of transactions that are accessible to law enforcement agencies.

In 2012, there were 19 felony convictions for selling stolen nonferrous metals in Michigan. There were four felony cases involving dealers who knowingly bought stolen scrap metal.


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