Schumer: Make metal seller prove ownership

Posted at: 05/02/2013 12:07 PM
Updated at: 05/02/2013 11:59 PM
By: Lynette Adams

It could be another way to fight theft in your community. Specifically, the theft of scrap metal.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer wants to make it tougher for thieves to steal the metal and sell it for money. But what do scrap yard owners think of the proposal?

There's a lot of money in scrap metal. For example, copper can go for $3 dollars a pound. So unoccupied homes and businesses are often the target of thieves looking to cash in on these precious metals. Senator Charles Schumer wants to make it tougher for thieves to sell their stolen property and more difficult for dealers to buy it.

Thomas Dionese said, “It'd be nice if they could do something to crack down so that there's not such a big stigma.”

Thomas Dionese is a scrapper and proud of it. It's a hobby that puts a little extra money in his pocket. But he says there are people who give scrapping a bad reputation.

Dionese said, “People possibly steal wire from a building They're not realizing that you take the wire and sell it for 20 bucks. I've done electrical work and its going to cost them possibly thousands to replace what you stole for $20.”

Senator Chuck Schumer wants to make it harder for people to steal precious metals like copper pipes from homes and businesses. He wants to make it a federal offense. He's proposed a bill requiring scrappers to prove ownership and scrap yards to keep detailed records of buyers.

Senator Schumer said, “We put in all these safeguards and now the $100 rule comes into effect and really doesn't do anything.”

Adam Weitsman owns this scrap business on Steele Street in Rochester and 12 others like it across the northeast. He thinks the penalties should be tougher for thieves and businesses that knowingly purchase stolen goods, but he thinks some of the changes he's made at his scrap yards would have a bigger impact.

Weitsman said, “I just spent a million dollars in all our facilities cameras on the scales, cameras as places where we pay. So when the police come in and can give us the person's name, we can show them the material, a photo of them, the exact time, what they were paid and everything.”

Schumer's bill would cap the amount at $100 that buyers could pay cash for items. Payments over that would have to be paid by personal check or by some other commercial transaction, thus creating a paper trail of all large sales.

Weitsman thinks thieves would get around this by separating their goods into smaller loads of $95 or less.