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Friday, January 27, 2012 - 12:08pm

Lawmakers Target Metal Theft

Theft of copper and other metals is getting a lot of attention in the General Assembly this year.

At least three bills in the legislature aim to strengthen regulations in hopes of stemming losses from metal theft.

The ideas include requiring recyclers buying the metal to get a permit, the seller’s thumbprint, and a digital picture of the metal. People selling scrap would also need a permit and all payments would have to be made by check after a waiting period.

Georgia Recyclers Association spokesman Bob Schmiedt says having so many restrictions runs the risk driving away companies from what amounts to a 3.7 billion dollar business in Georgia:

“The regulations we’ve got right now are more than enough to get people arrested. That’s happening daily across the state. The problem is, they’re not serving any jail time. They’re getting probation. Many of these people are multiple repeat offenders."

Schmiedt says his group is working with lawmakers to focus new laws on the metal thieves instead of regulating recyclers. He says stiffer penalties and maybe even a metal-thief registry would do more.