BOMA International supports state, local, and federal efforts to increase penalties and deterrents for the theft of metal from buildings and infrastructure. The theft of these metals puts the structures and systems at risk when damaged and can pose significant health and safety hazards to the building, its occupants, and the surrounding area. Additionally, the cost of repair often far exceeds that of simple replacement.
With the price of copper rising by 70 percent, the theft of metals used in construction sites, foreclosed homes, telecommunications infrastructure, retail establishments, buildings and utilities are common targets as thieves seek to steal copper communications lines, electrical wiring, air conditioning units, and countless other sources of metal that they can then sell to scrap yards.
The financial costs of repairing the equipment often far exceeds the value of the metal itself. In addition, metal theft has endangered lives and posed serious threats to public safety. For example, by stealing metal from telecommunications lines, thieves have cut off communities from access to emergency 911 services, and by stealing wiring from streetlights and electrical substations, they have left highways and communities dark.
S. 394, the Metal Theft Prevention Act of 2013, introduced on February 27, 2013 by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in the 113th Congress, seeks to make metal theft which harms critical infrastructure sites a federal crime and requires recycling agents to establish record-keeping data and make them available to authorities in order to further track down culprits. Any sale of scrap metal of more than $100 would have to be done with a check instead of cash to make it easier to flush out potential thieves and discourage metal theft.
Many states have enacted laws specifically addressing metal theft, but it is important that federal law and the federal government complement the efforts of state and local authorities to prosecute and ultimately deter these crimes.