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‘Federal teeth’ to put the bite on US metal thieves?

United States – In the wake of a surge in incidents, US federal officials are now proposing to tackle metal theft by making it a federal offence. Not a drastic call to make, according to New York Senator Charles Schumer, who has told Your News Now: ‘€˜It’€™s not just an issue downtown; it’€™s also in the suburbs. It’€™s not just one type of metal; it’€™s so many types.’€™

The senator wants federal offence coverage to extend to looting homes, businesses and even city streets in the name of acquiring scrap metal, arguing that any and all offenders deserve to be prosecuted with ‘€˜federal teeth’€™. He said: ‘€˜You’€™ve got to go after everybody. With strong federal enforcement, you can go after the bad guys who can often go on the move and cross city and county lines.’€™

The Senator is demanding the proposed law should not just target scrap thieves but should also keep a close eye on scrap dealers. His proposals would also require scrap sellers to provide proof of ownership to recyclers, who would be limited to paying no more than US$100 for the material brought to their sites.

Bob Frank, Regional General Manager for Metalico Inc., reckons most incidents involve drug addicts who continue to steal because they are ‘€˜in need of their fix’€™.

According to the metal dealer, the array of stolen items continues to widen, encompassing entire light poles and large numbers of manhole covers. Mr Frank states: ‘€˜Whenever we see manhole covers, sewer grates or memorial plates, we put them aside, call the city and tell them to come pick them up.’€™

Meanwhile, an explosion that levelled a nearby vacant house was linked by fire investigators to a gas leak caused by a stolen gas meter. ‘€˜That is not just robbery; that’€™s danger,’€™ concludes Mr Schumer.

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