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City Lawmakers Seek Crackdown on Scrap Metal Thefts

Several members of the Louisville Metro Council are planning to meet with scrap metal business owners to discuss new industry regulations in an effort to decrease theft and tighten security.The meeting is being called in response to what council members call a rise in theft of scrap metal across the city, which has become a pervasive issue in some neighborhoods.City lawmakers have requested a meeting with business leaders and police, along with officials from the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office and the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office to develop amendments to the scrap metal ordinance.Councilman David James, D-6, who is spearheading the effort, says more scrutiny of the industry is needed to ensure residents, non-profit organizations and businesses are protected from thieves."Some of the provisions we want to look at are that if you have a vehicle taken to a scrap metal dealer you must have proof of ownership. Some other discussion points have been making it not a cash-driven business, but a business where you have to get check instead of cash, which would give law enforcement time to investigate if the items were stolen or not," he says.Statistics compiled by Metro Police that were provided to the council show from January to June 2011 there were 946 reported thefts and burglaries involving scrap metals at over 1100 properties. The data did not indicate if this was a rise over previous years, but James says council members have noticed a higher number of calls from constituents."Every week we're getting phone calls or e-mails about somebody stealing scrap metal from a church, a school, a house or a business. It's gotten to the point where we really need to do something about it," he says.The scrap metal ordinance currently requires a transaction record, including the seller's signature, photo identification and fingerprint. And this isn't the first time the council has tried to crackdown on scrap metal thieves.In 2008, state and city lawmakers enacted legislation requiring business owners to keep purchase records for at least two years. It kept track of the seller’s name, address, identification and a description of their vehicle.But Council President Jim King, D-10, says city lawmakers have a duty to take more preventative action to protect property owners, adding the city should impose federal tax law on sellers."Clearly there continues to be a problem with the theft of metals and what we're trying to accomplish here is the best way to stop that, " he says. "We think that doing things like requiring licensing of individuals who sell over a certain dollar amount annually will help reduce the number of people who do this because the scrap metal yards would then require a high level of accountability—as would the city."The meeting with business owners and city officials is open to the public and scheduled for October 5th at 10 a.m. in the 1st Floor Conference Room of City Hall, 601 West Jefferson Street.