The Michigan State House held its first hearing Monday on bills to crack down on scrap metal theft.
The scrap metal theft reform package “provides stronger tools for our local law enforcement and prosecutors, as well as theft protections for residents, businesses and farmers,” says Detroit state representative Rashida Tlaib, a co-sponsor.
It works mostly by putting restrictions on the scrap yards who buy and process the metal.
The new law would require all that all transactions be documented. It requires scrap businesses to photograph, weigh and provide a description of the metals, and identify the employee who processes each transaction.
The bills would also ban cash transactions and delay payment for some commonly-stolen items, like catalytic converters and copper wire.
Tlaib says this will hopefully slow down what has long been a quick, anonymous process that’s allowed illegal scrappers to unload their haul for quick cash.
“That’s why we are not able to stop it,” Tlaib says. “It’s so rapid, that we’re not able to have real good evidence."
The bills have bi-partisan support, but are likely to face some opposition from the scrap metal industry.
Illegal scrapping is a serious and sometimes deadly problem throughout Michigan, from urban centers like Detroit and Flint to more rural areas.
Tlaib says hearings on the bill package are set to continue next week.