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Metal thieves will no longer profit due to new state law

Staff Report • Jun 28, 2012 at 8:19 AM

Every time the market prices for copper and other scrap metals increase, there’s a report of a thief risking electrocution to get at it.

As we reported in Tuesday’s paper, one thief was fortunate that he was not zapped when he unsuccessfully attempted to take down high-voltage wiring in a portion of the old Bemberg plant in Elizabethton over the weekend. The owner of the incubator business facility, Charlie Von Cannon, said the culprits “would have fried their butts” if they had cut into the live wiring.

State officials are hoping to discourage such thefts by making it difficult to deal in stolen metals. Effective July 1, scrap metal dealers and any locations used by the dealers to purchase, deal or engage in the scrap metal business must be registered with the Department of Commerce. This is an extension of a law the Tennessee General Assembly passed in 2008 to stiffen the fines of those convicted of stealing copper and other precious metals.

Under the act, scrap metal dealers may not buy or otherwise acquire precious metals from anyone who does not present a valid state or federally issued photo ID and may not sell to anyone under 18. Proper enforcement of this law will make copper theft unprofitable.

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