Metal theft laws need to be expanded, councilman argues

Copper pipes like these lure thieves and cause big problems for businesses and homeowners. Now a city councilman says Kansas City needs a stronger state law to deal with the problem. Photo courtesy Creative Commons by Beige Alert.

Posted by Joe Lambe

A recent Kansas City law that targets the theft of copper wire and other metals works fine as long as the thief doesn’t steal it here and sell it in another city.

So Kansas City will lobby for a statewide law imposing more tracking and proof of ownership for people who sell things like communications wire, air conditioning components and catalytic converters.

Councilman John Sharp announced that Tuesday at a meeting of the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners.

Under the new law, the seller has to show he is a contractor or owned the material and those selling a catalytic converter must show a car title, Sharp said. And the buyer must take photographs of the material and keep a record of who is selling it.

The theft of wiring and copper piping stripped from homes or construction sites has become an international problem and law enforcement authorities say it has become a business in many parts of the country. Thieves have even stolen manhole covers, grave markers and air conditioning coils, as well as stripping copper pipes out of foreclosed homes.

Catalytic converters, required on all vehicles since 1975, are devices that reduce pollution-causing emissions. 
Stolen catalytic converters are sold to scrap yards for around $100 to $150.

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