Scrap law aims to reduce theft

John Stegeman Sports Editor

August 23, 2012


PDT Staff Writer

The recent report of the theft of two manhole covers in Lucasville again brings to the forefront action being taken by the state of Ohio clamping down on both those who steal materials, and those who buy those materials, and the consequences both will suffer.

Mike Livingston, of Livingston & Company, Inc., an area scrap dealer, said many of Ohio’s new scrap metal laws, created by Am. Sub. S.B. 193, become effective on Sept. 28. Livingston recently attended a training program presented by the Ohio Department of Public Safety in which attorneys, Homeland Security officials, and other law enforcement authorities, to answer questions and to explain the new requirements.

“Mostly what they are saying is that they are adding some material, they call Special Purchase Articles, which fall under a little more scrutiny than ordinary material,” Livingston said. “They already had material like that, such as utility company’s wire; grave markers; any type of things such as guardrails; light poles; manhole lids. They were already in there.”

Now the new laws expand the Special Purchase Articles list to now include railroad material, including journal brasses, rail spikes, rails, tie plates, frogs and communication wire; metal trays, merchandise containers or similar containers used by grocers, brewers (beer kegs), and the soft drink industries for the bulk transportation of food and beverage items, and burnt wire that has been smelted, burned, or melted. “It against the law for us to buy them,” Livingston said.

“Once this kicks in, supposedly there shouldn’t be any scrap yard in the state of Ohio that is able to buy burnt wire, unless that person provides paperwork saying you are the owner of this material,” Livingston said. “Say your house burned down and you brought in burnt copper wire. If you don’t have the receipt from Lowe’s or someplace like that, I won’t be able to buy that from you. And if you are able to provide that information, we have to pay you by check. We have to hold it for two days. We have to keep the material for 30 days, and we have to take pictures of that material along with the rest of the transaction.”

Another part of the bill deals with record keeping requirements. The law specifies all records must be numbered consecutively and maintained in numerical order for inspection and include a photograph of the seller, taken at the time of purchase or receipt at the cashier’s window or scale. If the person refuses to be photographed, the dealer may not purchase or take the item from the seller. The photograph must be maintained for 60 days. The records must contain the weight of the articles using a licensed commercial scale; identify recyclable materials, adding a new “steel structure” category to include all structural steel including I-beams, trusses, channel iron, and similar steel from buildings, and identify the purchase of SPAs. It goes on to say that all records are still open to inspection by a law enforcement agency, and any record submitted to law enforcement will not be considered a public record under the Public records Law.

By Jan. 1, 2013, all scrap yards must register with the ODPS and pay an initial $200 registration fee, valid for one year, and renewable each year for $150. There are penalties ranging from fines to the shutting down of facilities for a period of time, for any company that does not register.

The purposes of the registry is to develop, implement, and maintain a secure database, including the daily electronic reports submitted by scrap metal dealers, for use by law enforcement by Jan. 1, 2014, that will receive and store all daily transaction data, submitted by scrap metal dealers; provide search capabilities for enforcement purposes; transmit scrap theft alerts to law enforcement and scrap metal dealers; include a searchable “Do Not Buy” list and transfer data to scrap metal dealers. In addition, any motor vehicle used in the theft or illegal transportation of metal will be impounded for 30 to 60 days. If the vehicle is used in a second or subsequent theft, the vehicle will be impounded for 60 to 180 days. Any vehicle used in the theft or illegal transportation of a SPA or bulk merchandise container will be impounded for 180 to 360 days.

The ODPS will incure one-time costs of between $500,000 and $600,000 to implement the registry, and $180,000 in annual costs to maintain the registry.

Livingston summed up the purpose in setting up the new guidelines.

“I think what they are hoping to accomplish, once all this stuff kicks in, is that nobody will be taking it if there is no place for them to take it,” Livingston said.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at flewis@heartlandpublications.com.