Know the laws: Beware of scrap metal theft

With the current sale price of metals so high there are both opportunities and pitfalls that are approaching the agricultural community. While farmers can find scrap metal on their land to take to recycling centers to earn a little extra income, there is also a rampant increase in the amount of scrap metal theft. Farmers need to be extra careful about suspicious activity near old barns and equipment, especially if there is copper lying around.

Scrap metal theft is up 81% nationwide since 2008. Virginia has laws on the books meant to protect both legitimate scrap metal sellers and scrap metal recyclers. Metal recyclers as defined by the state Code are required to collect certain information from any seller of regulated metals and keep records of such information for not less than five years.

Required information that must be collected includes:

• A record of the seller’s identification information from a driver’s license or other government‐issued current photographic identification that includes the seller’s full name, current address, date of birth, and social security or other recognized identification number

• The time and date of the transaction

• The license plate number of the seller’s vehicle

• A description of the items received from the seller

If the seller is a person who is not an authorized scrap seller or the authorized agent and employee of an authorized scrap seller, documentation, such as a bill of sale, receipt, letter of authorization or similar evidence, establishing that the person lawfully possesses the proprietary articles to be sold

• If the seller is not an authorized scrap seller and has no documentation showing lawful possession, the scrap metal processor must document a diligent inquiry into whether the seller has a legal right to sell the property. After purchasing this property, the scrap metal processor must:

o Submit a report to law enforcement by close of business the following day

o Include in the report a description of the article

o Include in the report a copy of the seller’s identifying information.

o Hold the proprietary article for 15 days after the purchase.

Upon request, law enforcement who presents credentials may inspect during regular business hours and at the normal business location any records required by law.

Reports to law enforcement

Upon requested by law enforcement, a scrap metal processor must furnish a report of all purchases of nonferrous scrap, metal articles, and proprietary articles, excluding aluminum cans and interior household items. Each report must:

• Be submitted on the next business day following the date of a purchase

• Include the seller’s name, date of birth, identification number, address, height, and weight and the license plate number of any motor vehicle in which the goods or things were delivered

• Be submitted in the proper format

Virginia law not apply to the purchase, sale or disposal of any material that is used in the provision of health care by any professional who is licensed, certified or registered to practice by a board within the Department of Health Professions.

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