By Frank Lewis
If you guessed that the Department Homeland Security couldn’t care less about the selling and buying of scrap metal — guess again. Robert Schlicher, Southeastern Ohio regional coordinator for the Ohio Division of Homeland Security, made a presentation to area law enforcement officers and scrap metal dealers Wednesday morning in the Sodexo Ballrom on the campus of Shawnee State University.
“They care because of the thefts and the crime that goes along with businesses,” Scioto County Sheriff’s Captain David Hall said. “When you start breaking into power stations and start selling metal from people’s businesses and people’s homes. The thieves are benefiting from it by taking illegal items to scrap yards and that is hurting us all. So what this program is designed to do give businesses a website to go to to check and see if people are on the ‘do not buy’ list and to register who is doing daily transactions.”
Hall said all courts around the state of Ohio will soon be set up to submit convictions to the state of Ohio through a secure database that can be checked by scrap dealers to see who the persons are on the “do not buy” list.
“This is all an effort to reduce all the metal thefts that we have within the county and throughout the state,” David Thoroughman, director of public safety for Shawnee State University, said. “The training is designed to make sure that all the scrap yards are in compliance with the laws regarding scrap metal and also to give the law enforcement officers the tools they need to go after those who are stealing the metals and selling them.”
A new law has taken effect in Ohio. That law is 4737.04 of the Ohio Revised Code and the purpose of the training was to inform scrap dealers what they can and can’t buy and who they can and can’t buy from.
“It establishes certain reporting criteria for scrap metal dealers; identifies what is scrap metal; how it’s to be reported when it’s purchased; who you are allowed to buy from and who you are not allowed to buy from,” Portsmouth Police Chief Robert Ware said. “There is a ‘do not buy’ list made up of those convicted of theft offenses. So if you have a theft offense you can’t sell scrap metal. So therefore, they (scrap dealers) can’t purchase from those individuals.”
Ware said there are also special metals that are utilized by the utilities, public utilities and railroads that, when those are stolen and cut it disrupts our infrastructure and thus our safety and communications equipment, and selling those items is prohibited.
“It’s designed to protect the individual consumer and things such as their air conditioning units, but also the critical infrastructure across the nation,” Ware said. “We want to take a proactive approach to make sure that these owners and managers, dealers and scrap metal businesses understand this law and understand what their requirements are so that they’re in compliance.”
Ware said dealers will have a grace period to familiarize their operations with the new law and prosecutors and law enforcement officials will learn more about how to build a case.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.