NEW YORK Rhode Island
recyclers would face tighter restrictions on cash transactions
if legislators pass a new bill aimed at curbing the theft of
Under the Copper Theft
Prevention Act, recyclers would be prohibited from paying cash
for transactions above $500 for regulated metals, which include
copper. For all purchases above $500, payment must be made by
The law would also require
dealers to obtain a license from the state Office of the
Attorney General in order to buy or receive regulated
"Theft is already punishable
under the law, but to address this specific kind of theft we
must not only go after the thieves but also those businesses
that are abetting theft by purchasing the stolen copper
materials," according to state Senate Majority Leader Dominick
J. Ruggerio (D., District 4), a sponsor of the bill. "Those
purchases are, knowingly or not, creating an impetus for more
The law also calls for
authorized recyclers to require proof of identification with
the sellers photograph, date of birth and current
address. Sellers would also have to sign a document stating
their legal ownership of the property being sold.
Violators of the law would face
misdemeanor charges. If the property in such a transaction is
more than $500, violators would face a $2,000 fine and up to
three years in prison.
Some recyclers had concerns
about the bill, citing increased administrative costs and the
possibility that legitimate sellers would be scared off from
"These types of laws dont
necessarily prevent creeps from doing business," according to
Edward Sciaba, general manager of Providence-based Rhode Island
Recycled Metals LLC.
Putting cash restrictions in
place would mean that copper thieves would likely travel to
nearby Massachusetts, where there is no cash limit on
transactions, he said.
"They are not coming in with
anything over $500 anyway," Sciaba added. "These guys go from
yard to yard and sell their stolen copper in $100 to $200
bundles. The people this will affect the most are the ones
doing legitimate business, like plumbers and contractors. Not
everyone has time to go to the bank and deposit a check."
The bill has been referred to
the states Senate Judiciary Committee and was scheduled
for a hearing Jan. 29.
"Times are tough for everybody,"
Sciaba said. "Copper theft is going to happen no matter what
laws get passed. It really comes down to scrapyards doing their
due diligence and knowing who they are doing business