Recent copper thefts show value of new law - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Recent copper thefts show value of new law

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A recent rash of copper thefts across the state has highlighted the value of a new law that requires scrap metal dealers to register with the secretary of state's office.

The database is just one requirement of Senate Bill 528 that passed the West Virginia Legislature earlier this year. The bill was created to help law enforcement track people who sell stolen material, such as copper, to recycling centers. The law also requires people who sell more than five catalytic converters to have their fingerprints on file with the recycler along with a copy of a photo ID. Catalytic converters include precious metals platinum, palladium and rhodium.

The searchable database lists the recycling center's address, hours of operation and phone number. Recycling centers are not charged a fee for registering with the secretary of state's office.

Recent copper theft incidents took place in Cass, Charleston Ravenswood and Logan, where a man was electrocuted while trying to steal copper, according to police. Secretary of State Natalie Tennant pointed out that stealing copper is not only illegal, but dangerous and sometimes fatal.

"If there is nowhere to sell the stolen material, it should cut down on these types of crimes," she said. "By making this database available to the public and to the police, we are trying to help make it harder for someone to sell their stolen copper to recycling centers. Dozens of recycling centers are following the law and registering, showing that they stand with this office and the police in eliminating a foolish crime that can result in power outages for thousands of people or death for the ones who try to commit it."

Possible copper thefts can be reported directly to a West Virginia State Police detachment or by using the website www.scraptheftalert.com. The database can be found on the secretary of state's website at www.wvsos.com.