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Lawmakers Increase Penalties for Copper Thieves, Beer Keg Crooks

June 4th, 2008 by flanews

A new law will make it harder for people trying to sell stolen copper. Soon people who give false contact information to metal recyclers will face felony charges. As Whitney Ray tells us, lawmakers hope better record keeping can help stop copper thieves.

Hear it Here: Lawmakers Increase Penalties for Copper Thieves, Beer Keg Crooks

Forget going for the gold, these days copper is the hot commodity and thieves are cashing in. Copper theft is on the rise, with thieves hitting everything from construction sites to city utility buildings. Police say the risk isnt worth the payoff.

Its just not worth that much its worth about two dollars and 50 cents a pound, but youve got to get a lot of copper in order to get any money out of that, said Tallahassee Policeman David McCranie.

People bring copper by the truck load to Gator Core, a metal recycler in Tallahassee. Co-Owner Joy Davis said they keep a suspicious eye on their customers.

If theyve got more than 30 or 40 pounds, youre going to ask them where it came from, and if it looks pretty new, youre definitely going to ask them where it came from, said Davis.

Davis also copies the sellers drivers license and keeps it on file. Police officers will look at the file if they suspect a thief has visited the company.

When they get there theyve got to provide their identification and a lot of information which enables us to trace back who sold the product and make an arrest in a lot of cases, said McCranie.

A new law will require metal recyclers to keep a record of their customers in an electronic database. It will also increase the penalties for anyone who gives a metal recycler a fake ID or false contact information.

The law adds kegs of beer to the list of regulated metals upping the ante for anyone who gambles and tries to cash in on a stolen keg. Many metal recyclers wont buy kegs and according to Joy Davis they also wont buy metal from anyone who cant tell them where it came from.

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