The bill defines scrap metal as a manufactured item that consists of or contains metal, metal removed from buildings or metal no longer used for its original purpose that can be reused by a manufacturing facility. The law requires processors of such materials to obtain and photocopy a state or federal government-issued photo ID of any non-licensed seller of scrap metal and make a record of the seller’s full name, current address, date of birth, vehicle license number of the vehicle or vehicles making delivery and a general description of the purchase. The law also forbids processors from purchasing scrap metal from anyone who is less than 18 years old.
“I think it’s much needed,” said state Rep. John Yates, R-Griffin.
He said he had attended an earlier meeting dealing with metal theft in Griffin and reputable metal dealers who had attended the meeting agreed on the need for laws. He said he had been victimized by metal thieves, who had stolen the pump from a well at his house.
“It’s a real problem,” he said.
“We already do that,” said Tim Summers, supervisor of Sweet Returns Recycling. “We collect just as much information as we feel is necessary.”
He said he knows what the state is trying to do but he does not know how effective it will be. He said his company has been around for 15 years and has an established customer base, although the bill might deter unscrupulous behavior by fly-by-night companies.
He did, however, question the wisdom of forbidding those under 18 from selling metal.
“If you’re old enough to drive and someone collects cans for her 16- and 17-year-old grandson, why couldn’t we buy them?” he asked.
He said he does not understand that part of the law.
Cpl. Bryan Clanton of the Griffin Police Department expressed his support for the measure.
“This is already being done by some processors in the spirit of cooperating with law enforcement,” he said. “It is very advantageous for the police to have access to this information when generating investigative leads. We have seen that legitimate, law-abiding purveyors of scrap metal do not object to providing this information when selling recyclable materials to a processing facility. If it becomes a statutory law, then it would ensure a regulatory reference statewide.”
Griffin Board of Commissioners member Doug Hollberg said the proposed state law is very similar to the city’s own metal-theft ordinance. During a conference on metal theft with the local legislative delegation, he gave legislators copies of a South Carolina metal theft ordinance to use as a basis for future legislation.
“We’re in full support of anything that will strengthen the law in regards to metal theft,” he said.