Stolen scrap worth bucks

Published 5:57 pm Thursday, July 24, 2008

An increase in automobile and scrap metal thefts are believed to be linked to the increase in the value of scrap metals.

The Picayune Police Department and the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department have noted an increase in attempts to steal scrap cars and other items made of metal.

Chief Jim Luke said in the past few months the Picayune Police Department has made about four arrests relating to stolen cars. There also have been about three arrests linked to stolen junk cars.

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Sheriff’s Department Chief Investigator Shane Tucker said the sheriff’s department has been working with a number of local scrap yards to help prevent stolen items from being sold to them. Metal theft has been seen in instances of stolen air conditioning units, stolen cars and stolen metals from new construction sites.

“This is not just a problem for Pearl River County. It’s state wide, it’s nationwide,” Tucker said.

A new law will go into effect on Aug. 1, tightening restrictions on the sale of scrap metals. Anyone who brings scrap metal to a scrap yard after that date will have to abide by Senate Bill 2006, which states that sellers will have to provide photo identification. That identification and a photograph of the sold metal, taken at the scrap yard in its current state, will be kept on record at the yard for a period of at least two years, the bill states.

The scrap no longer will be purchased with cash. Instead a check will be mailed to the seller, Tucker said.

Air conditioner units will not be accepted after Aug. 1, unless the seller is a certified air conditioner technician, the bill states.

Aluminum cans are the only exception to the new law, the bill states.

When Sheriff David Allison took office, he and Tucker went to all the scrap yards to address the current problem, Tucker said. Some of the scrap yards were already keeping records, while others were not. Even before the new law takes effect scrap yards in the county are keeping records and working with law enforcement agencies to discourage thieves from bringing stolen metal to the yards. When the new law takes effect, scrap yard owners have indicated their willingness to comply as well.

“They’re doing a good job keeping their records up to date,” Tucker said.