Tougher penalties may be coming to those who steal copper and other metals. The State house of representatives passed a bill Thursday that creates a statewide digital database to track metals, increases criminal penalties and puts limits on cash transactions involving certain metals and objects.
Facilities would also have to take pictures of those selling scrap metals and keep those pictures for a year. The vote to pass the bill came after hours of debate.
"I don't think this law will stop one person from stealing one piece of copper," said Rep. Alan Boothe, R-Troy. "They're going to steal it and continue to steal it as long as it's out there."
Others said the database and picture requirements would be too expensive and force some small scrap metal dealers out of business.
"We're not trying to put secondary metal recyclers out of business," said Rep. Bill Poole, R-Tuscaloosa, who sponsored the bill. "We're not trying to impede the flow of scrap, that's important. We need to recycle aluminum cans, metals, and we need that flow to continue unimpeded, but we also have to combat the theft that's occurring and the damage that it's causing."
A bill parallel to this one passed the Senate last week. The two bills have slight differences, but Poole is confident that both chambers will give final approval to a bill on this issue.
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