Full of Scrap: Regulators have right idea, but the wrong target

Jan 31, 2012 | 07:00 PM | Lisa Gordon

Tags  Full of Scrap, scrap theft, Lisa Gordon

Regulations aimed at curbing scrap metal thefts are being enacted almost weekly at state and local levels, in many cases making recyclers the scapegoat for a problem that has reached almost epidemic proportions. While it is appropriate to set parameters and guidelines for industry players to some degree, the core problem will remain as long as the wrong group is targeted.

The laws added to the books from coast to coast encompass everything from 30-day tag-and-hold rules to bans on cash payments, but it is recyclers that pay the price. Elected officials instead should target the thieves, imposing punishments that will truly act as a deterrent. In North Platte, Neb., a thief convicted of stealing more than 4 tons of metal was ordered to serve 30 days in jail; in Milwaukee, a man convicted of stealing a tractor-trailer full of metal received probation; and a Virginia worker who scrapped $30,000 of equipment was given probation, community service, a $50 fine and ordered to write an apology to his former boss. Sending a message that little will happen if you’re caught stealing scrap will only encourage more of the same.....

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