According to Mike Livingston of Livingston and Co. Inc. on U.S. 52 in Portsmouth, former Gov. Ted Strickland in 2008 signed into law updates to existing recycling laws that pertain to purchasing scrap metals and the record-keeping involved.
The law requires scrap yards to obtain certain information from each seller: a valid photo I.D., license tag, time, date and description of materials sold for each transaction.
Reputable businesses take those precautions and keep extensive records, Livingston says, to avoid enabling thieves to sell stolen property.
“We take a picture I.D. or driver’s license, license plate number, what time you were here, what it was you brought in. Everything is on video from the time you pull in until the time you leave,” Livingston said. “Everything you take in should be logged and turned in to local law enforcement, either once a week on paper or once a day electronically. We do it electronically.”
“When prices started to rise dramatically in 2006, we realized that writing down names and addresses for each transaction was not going to be enough,” he said. “By January of 2007, we had spent over $20,000 in new computers and custom-built software that would make it easy to find any transaction from any of our customers.”
Police can search for information at any time through the computerized system Livingston’s uses to track stolen property or those who might be selling it.
Exclusions to this kind of strict recording of transactions are made for “common recyclable materials” such as beverage cans, cardboard and glass.
Even with all of the security measures, however, suspicious items are sometimes still sold. Livingston said telephone and railroad companies have been dealing with huge copper theft problems lately.
“Someone brought in 80 pounds of telephone wire recently. But before the guy could even get out of the parking lot, we were on the phone with AT&T’s security department in Columbus telling them what we had,” he said.
“The State of Ohio writes all of these laws but they don’t have anybody that enforces them. Until everybody gets on the same page and tries to do the right thing all the way around it’s never going to stop. Until all of the scrap yards abide by the rules and regulations set forth by the State of Ohio, copper theft will always be a problem,” Livingston said. “As long a there are people out there willing to get out and steal it, there are places that are willing to buy it.”
Recycling law sets strict guidelines for the metals that can be sold by the public.
What can be sold with the proper identification and record keeping includes, but is not limited to, scrap copper (various forms and grades), scrap aluminum (various forms and grades), stainless steel (such as pans, pipes and other household items), red and yellow brass, sheet iron (bicycles, vehicle body parts and other items) and lead.
What cannot be sold includes beer kegs, manhole covers, grave markers or plaques, roadside guardrails, utility wires or grocery carts.
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