Most people wouldn’t think of scrap metal theft as a felony, but a Missouri Senate law would make it just that.

Most people wouldn’t think of scrap metal theft as a felony, but a Missouri Senate law would make it just that.
The Missouri law, which passed the Senate 31-0, would make stealing wire or metal plumbing a felony punishable by up to four years in prison.
The law contains many other provisions, including:
• scrap dealers are required to keep a copy of a photo ID of anyone selling at least $50 of copper or aluminum.
• a ban on dealers purchasing manhole covers from anyone without the written authority to sell them.
• for purchases greater than $100, scrap dealers would have to pay in a traceable form, like a check.
• dealers who violate these provisions could be charged with misdemeanors of up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The Missouri law comes at a time Kansas law enforcement is catching scrap metal thieves at a high rate.
On April 15, Cherokee County deputies arrested two men for stealing scrap metal from 5500 SW 110th Street in Cherokee County. Those two men were Rusty S. Goff and Joseph Ryan Williams, both of Columbus.
On April 22, deputies arrested three men, Kyle A. Reed and Samuel J. Turner, both of Baxter Springs, and Zachary S. Cole, of Picher, for stealing scrap from the Treece area.
The next day, April 23, deputies arrested Danny R. Obanion Jr. and Sr. of Baxter Springs with stolen scrap metal in their vehicle. The material was from a residence on SE Clem Road.
These arrests come after Kansas passed a similar bill to Missouri’s. The Kansas bill is an anti-meth measure that requires scrap dealers to get a name and address from their sellers, as well as requiring scrap metal purchases to be made by check.
Crawford County Sheriff Sandy Horton said the Kansas measures have been valuable.
“It has been very helpful to law enforcement as far as requiring dealers to see a photo ID of a subject selling material,” Horton said. “It’s helped to get positive ID on who’s doing it and to stop or prevent some of the stolen items.”
While Horton is unsure of the numbers of scrap metal thefts or overall trends, he said the best cases are the ones that are worked immediately.
Horton said the best prevention against scrap metal theft is simply vigilance.
“People will steal wiring, burn insulation off the wire, then steal that,” Horton said. “Any type of theft is something the owner needs to keep a vigilant eye on the neighborhood. Have your neighbors keep an eye out for your house, too, and you might avoid scrap thieves.”