Michigan now has tougher laws on the books meant to crack down on scrap metal theft.
Under a bill signed by Gov. Rick Snyder Thursday, people can no longer get instant cash when they sell commonly stolen items for $25 or more.
Supporters say mailing payments for those items will help law enforcement by creating a paper trail. They say communities all over the state have been literally ripped apart by illegal scrapping.
“This is an issue that you’ll quite often hear emphasized in our urban areas,” said Snyder. “But this is an issue and a problem that’s taking place in all corners of Michigan; in our rural areas – particularly with our railroad situations and other places like that. So it’s important that we’re seeing these reforms take place.”
State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, has pushed for tougher scrap metal laws for years. She says it’s now up to police and prosecutors to use those tools to crack down on metal theft.
“I want lights in my city,” said Tlaib. “I don’t want to invest in those resources and turn around a week later and it’s gone.”
But Tlaib is worried the compromise bill doesn’t go far enough.
“Some of the illegal scrappers will go to one (scrap) yard to the next to the next with $24.99 or lower,” she told reporters after the bill signing. “That’s what our fear is – is that even some of the scrap (yard) owners might use this as a loophole.”
House Bill 4593 cleared the state Legislature last month with overwhelming bipartisan support. But it took a number of attempts and major revisions over the course of a year for lawmakers to reach a deal on the legislation.