PITTSBURGH Tennessee will have stricter penalties for selling stolen metals starting July 1 after state governor Bill Haslam signed legislation intended to curb metals theft.
The new rules are designed to hold buyers and sellers of stolen metals more accountable and give the state more power to enforce its scrap dealer registration program.
"The scrap recycling industry in Tennessee is working to be a part of the solution to material theft," Sen. Jim Tracy (R., Shelbyville), the legislations sponsor, said. "This partnership is very important to really attack the problem. In the last two years, 18 state legislatures have passed bills to crack down on metal theft and any unscrupulous dealers that might aid them."
The new rule will charge anyone knowingly selling stolen scrap metal with theft, with penalties varying based on the value of the metal and the costs incurred in repair or recovery. Anyone caught selling stolen metal where damages exceed $500 will be charged with a new Class E "fine only" felony, punishable by a fine of up to $5,000.
Any recycler who knowingly buys stolen metal, regardless of the value, will face a misdemeanor charge and a $500 fine.
The new law also makes it a misdemeanor for any recycler to operate without state registration and authorizes the states commerce department to investigate written complaints it receives about a recycler. Any hearings or sanctions that result from such investigations will be made public.