New law aims to help police catch metal thieves | News
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Tracking down thieves stealing copper and metal from homes and businesses has been a major headache for police across the Commonwealth.
A new law, that takes effect July 12, aims to help ease the problem.
The metal thefts were such a problem in Boone County, Kentucky, the sheriff there set up the department's own Scrap Unit to focus on the issue.
It has been a major problem in the city of Louisville too.
There is a reason the YMCA Safe Place air conditioner on Crittenden Drive is now hooked up to an alarm system and locked behind a fence. "Our 20 ton condensing unit that cools and heats our building here was missing completely off the concrete slab," explained Matt Reed, Safe Place Executive Director.
Reed said the original $10,000 unit, stolen from the building last year, was sold to a scrap yard for about $700 for the copper and metal inside.
"Of all places to take from, these kids are coming from very difficult situations," said Reed.
Stealing from a charity is pretty low, but not uncommon.
In the last couple of years, copper and other metal thefts at non-profits and area churches were as regular as the same type of thefts from homes and businesses.
"It's a great law," said Louisville Metro Councilman David James, of House Bill 390. The new state law, which goes into effect Thursday, was set up with law enforcement officials and with the state's recycling industry.
The new law will enhance current law, which means, recyclers must pay with a check for certain metals, not cash.
James explained, "They have to send that check to an address, a physical address." So, if police find out it is stolen metal or copper, it is much easier to track down the thieves.
"I hear from citizens who have had their air conditioners stolen and their gutters stolen." James said. He has been dealing with a lot of thefts in his district.
James has also been working on a city ordinance to make the law even tougher.
It would require showing titles for vehicles hauling metals to recyclers and the seller's information will go into a data base. Police would then be able to investigate online.
"Right now it is all done by writing in log books for all the different recyclers," said James. "An officer would have to go to each and every recycler, and look in each and every log book, which is very impractical and not very efficient."
The proposal for Louisville comes up for committee vote on Thursday, July 19.
It would then go to the full council for a vote. James said other council members, as well as police, have been very supportive.
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