New law targets metal thieves - New York News

New law targets metal thieves

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ATLANTA -

Atlanta police hope a new state law will keep thieves away from your air conditioner, your copper pipes, and your car.  The law takes effect on Sunday, and it's designed to make it much tougher to sell stolen scrap metal.  

Metal thefts are one crime where the long list of victims includes businesses, homeowners, churches, and even the city of Atlanta.

"We realized there were a number of things that were taking place inside the city and state that were creating a problem for us-- that we needed help," said Atlanta Police Chief George Turner.  

On Sunday, Chief Turner and the rest of the metal theft victims will get that help. The new state law targets people who steal everything from copper pipes to air conditioning coils by making it tougher for them to resell those metals to recycling companies.

Each seller must now sign a statement saying that he or she owns the metal.  The recycling company can only pay the seller by check.  The buyer must also take a picture or video of the piece, and be registered with the state.

"If you do not have a permit from your sheriff, you can not do business," explained Alice Johnson of the Atlanta Police Department.  "So that in itself, captures for law enforcement, a whole bunch of information that we wouldn't otherwise have."

But recycling company owners who spoke with FOX 5 used words like 'difficult,' 'problematic,' and 'cumbersome,' to describe the new law.

Over the phone, they say many of their customers sell metal in small amounts, getting back only a couple of dollars-- and they won't want to go through all the paperwork just for a couple of bucks.

Owners also worry that customers will find companies ignoring the law and sell exclusively to them, which would hurt business for companies who are doing the right thing.

Police say the greater economic impact of the law is fewer thefts, and saving people from having to spend money on replacement equipment.  

This is the third time in five years that the Georgia legislature has tried to address the growing problem of metal thefts.

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