Assembly Democrats Introduce Bill To Stem Rampant Scrap Metal Theft In NJ

Amid growing reports of scrap metal thefts throughout the state, Assembly Democrats Angel Fuentes, Gilbert “Whip” Wilson, Celeste Riley, Shavonda Sumter and Benjie Wimberly have introduced legislation to strengthen regulations at scrap metal businesses and stymie scrap metal thieves who are targeting construction sites, empty buildings and even cemeteries.

Current law requires scrap metal businesses to maintain records only on transactions in excess of one hundred pounds or $50 for at least five years. The bill would require scrap metal businesses to maintain records on every transaction, and send all copies of records maintained to the appropriate law enforcement agency at the close of each business day.

“I authored this legislation due to an ongoing problem in Camden that is nonetheless a problem throughout the state,” said Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester). “Our cities, already stretched thin financially due to the country’s dire economic circumstances, are often victims to vandals looking for their next dollar. Damage to public infrastructure often cannot be readily or cheaply fixed. Unfortunately, this problem also affects our private residents in both urban and suburban settings, whose property is at risk as well. This is an issue that cannot be ignored any longer.”

As metal prices climb, thieves have been known to remove copper wiring from street lamps, and strip abandoned properties or foreclosed homes of any available metal. Even cemeteries have been hit, with thieves targeting bronze and aluminum flag holders that decorate graves of deceased veterans. Scrap metal dealers could be charged with possession of stolen property for purchasing such materials.

Under the bill, scrap metal businesses will be required to limit payment for materials received to a non-transferable check, mailed to the seller’s provided address. All deliveries of scrap metal must be made in a motor vehicle, and that vehicle’s license plate must be included in the sales records.
“Times are tough, but that does not excuse this behavior,” said Wilson (D-Camden/Gloucester). “This is not a victimless crime. In some cases, scrap metal thieves are stealing items that may earn them a couple hundred dollars, but cost thousands to replace. Parks in Camden have gone dark because of thieves stealing copper wires used to light street lamps. It’s time to toughen restrictions to deter would be thieves from selling and profiting from stolen scrap metals.”

There have been countless media reports about scrap metal thefts throughout New Jersey, as reported on TLS.

Earlier this month, $20,000 worth of metal was stolen from rooftop air conditioning units at several stores in a shopping center in Deptford Township in Gloucester County. In Camden, copper wires used to light parks have been cut and stolen, leaving many of the city’s parks in the dark, according to media reports. Last year, three New Jersey women were accused in Philadelphia of trying to sell almost 400 grave markers and flower urns taken from several cemeteries. The items had reportedly been taken from the graves of veterans ranging from the Civil War to the Gulf War.

Thieves have also targeted local rail lines. Amtrak was hit in January by thieves who stole about 300 feet of wire at the intersection of the Northeast Corridor and the Atlantic City Line, delaying seven NJ Transit trains, according to a media report. NJT trains have also suffered delays because of metal thefts. Suspected wire thieves were arrested in February near NJT’s Plauderville station in Bergen County after allegedly breaking into a signal box and stealing copper wire. In addition to stranding trains, the thefts can endanger passengers. Cut wires can send rogue electric currents running through station hand rails, water pipes, or even the ground, according to a media report.

“These individuals are not only destroying private property and causing thousands of dollars in damages, but in some cases, they are putting themselves and the public at risk,” said Riley (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “Right now it seems it’s just too easy for thieves to sell stolen scrap metal to scrap metal yards without fear of repercussion. The additional regulations under this bill would make the process of selling scrap metal more thorough to help counter this rampant problem.”

“From drain sewers to flower urns to copper from power cables, it seems anything metal is up for grabs these days. It’s criminal and it’s affecting not just private businesses, but municipalities struggling financially. Current regulations are too lax considering how pervasive this problem has become,” said Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). “The provisions in this bill would help give law enforcement the proper tools to pursue these cases more effectively and discourage these thefts.”

“Many of these thefts are creating financial problems for already cash-strapped municipalities. In some parts of the state, entire neighborhood blocks are being blacked out by thieves stealing copper wiring. This undermines the quality of life, safety and financial stability of residents since at the end of the day, they may end up footing the bill to replace the items stolen or damaged by these type of thefts,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “It’s not fair, it’s dangerous and it must stop.” TLS.

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  1. I don’t see the problem with copper theft. These people are simply taking from the rich (the 1%) and giving to the poor (the 99%). Isn’t this what we all want? We should be thanking these copper thieves, and voting them into office again and again so that they can continue to steal from the 1% and give to the 99%, just like the current crop of elected thieves.

  2. to #1

    you are wrong wrong wrong. there is no excuse to steal because to put in back new pipes is hundred of dollars and you need a plummer and everyting

  3. waste of time, they will just take it to a PA scrap site, and all the normal people and the business’s will be left with a whole new bureaucracy to deal with while the thieves continue their holy work. Sounds much like gun control doesn’t it?! Oh its the democrats again it doesnt have to make sense as long as it feels good

  4. ME: I had enough of struggling and earning a living, and paying through my nose in taxes. I’m just going to take an early retirement and have the taxpayer pay all my living expenses through government programs.
    MY FRIEND: You just woke up? Where were you till now? That’s what half the country is doing already. The other half are the losers who are supporting us.
    ME: So what happens when us losers decide to stop working and just taking govt programs and benefits. Who will pay for all our benefits?
    MY FRIEND: Oh, don’t worry. There will always be stupid people in the world. There will always be people working for a living and paying taxes.
    ME: This mentality is destroying our country.
    MY FRIEND: You sound like a Tea Party extremist.
    ME: Good night.

  5. I wonder how many new government employees will be needed to maintain all these new records, and how many new inspectors will be needed to show compliance to the new rules, and how about the new fines to the junk yards for not being in compliance, who will write the tickets? More jobs programs brought to you by your neighborhood Democrat.

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