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Friday, July 27, 2012 - 12:00pm

Metal Recycling Law: Pricey Results

A new Georgia law to fight metal theft appears to be working. Metal theft costs Georgia businesses millions of dollars a year. Law enforcement officials in South Georgia are already seeing a decline in theft since the law took effect July 1st.

But it’s coming at a price for metal recycling businesses.

Under the law, metal recyclers now have to document and photograph each sale. Items are then registered into a statewide database to track potential criminals who sell stolen metal like copper. Buying new computer software and equipment, like cameras, to comply with the law has cost Elliot Hammer with Star Metal in Atlanta more than $20,000. He says on top of the expense is the time consuming new procedures:

“Because of taking pictures of each item, take a picture of the person selling the material, examining the material, they sign a very extensive affidavit, now it all has to be done electronically and keep an extensive record for as long as 2 years.”

Frank Goulding with the Georgia Recyclers Association says the initial high price for businesses is worth the long term goal: To bust companies in con-compliance and thieves who are stealing scrap metal:

“At the end of the day it’s going to allow a database that law enforcement can tap into that will allow them to track these criminals.”

Police departments in Dougherty County and in Albany have already reported a drop in metal thefts, due to the new law.