New law, reporting system, battles Ohio scrap metal theft

One report shows that metal theft grew 218 percent nationally from April 2009 to August 2011. In Ohio, a recent National Insurance Crime Bureau analysis reported 2,398 insurance claims from 2009 through 2011, most of it being copper theft.

A group of those in Ohio affected by theft, including scrap dealers, chiefs of police, Buckeye Sherrif’s Association, Farm Bureau, railroads, electric utilities, communications utilities, grocers, Ohio Insurance Association and a few other groups collaborated through the state’s Metal Theft Consortium to make recommendations to legislators used in the bill (SB 193) sponsored by Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Green Township, that became law.

Built on a 2008 law requiring dealers to make copies of sellers’ photo IDs and other information available to law enforcement, the new legislation creates an electronic database from what was previously a paper-based system.

An important aspect of the new law is increased cooperation between police and scrap industry officials in battling thefts.

“The goal (of the bill) was to get more information in a more user friendly format to law enforcement, increase penalties (for thieves) and create an electronic database that allows law enforcement to put together a series of transactions which they would not have been able to do with a paper trail,” said J. Jeffrey McNealey, a Columbus attorney who represents the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. (ISRI) in Ohio.

“The theft of materials now is going to be electronically kept and be sent to the Department of Public Safety by noon the day after the sale, and the information in the database will be available to law enforcement in their cruisers,” McNealey said.

ISRI has also developed a voluntary online reporting service called Scrap Theft Alert, where law enforcement or individual owners can report stolen material. The information is then sent out to all ISRI scrap yards immediately, where an eye can be kept out for stolen material.

McNealy said Ohio farmers should be aware of the alert system.

“In recent months I’ve noticed a lot of tractor weights being reported (on the site) stolen in western Ohio,” he said. “If farmers report as soon as they notice something is stolen, they can ask law enforcement to make the Scrap Theft Alert or make the alert themselves. That gives a higher chance to catch the theft as it comes to the yards.”

Ohio Farm Bureau members are also encouraged to use the $2,500 Reward Property Protection member benefit program to deter crime, including metal theft. The program rewards anyone submitting information that leads to the felony conviction of criminals who stole property from Farm Bureau members.


Report stolen metal on Scrap Theft Alert 

Visit ISRI’s website 

Read SB 193 

Learn more about the $2,500 Reward program 

Lynn Snyder 

Lynn Snyder is senior director of communications for Ohio Farm Bureau.

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