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Home  |  News  |  Copper theft law to take effect Wednesday

Copper theft law to take effect Wednesday
Wednesday, August 17, 2011

 
FLORENCE, SC - A new law meant to help curb the increasing amounts of copper theft across South Carolina, goes into effect Wednesday and agencies hope it will make a dramatic difference when it comes to preventing crime.

The law comes after several years of rising copper values and incident after incident of copper theft in counties across the state, including those in the Pee Dee.

Florence County Sheriff's Office investigators say most recently they arrested a suspect and charged him with 23 different instances of copper theft that totalled more than $150,000 in damages across the area.

Bryant John Finn, 25, of 1222 Manorway Drive, Florence, was arrested by Florence County Sheriff’s Office investigators and charged with 23 counts of Injury to real property, fixtures or improvements to obtain nonferrous metals (S.C. Code 16-11-0523(B)) or theft of copper.

"Copper theft has been a problem not only in Florence County but all over the state of South Carolina," said Florence County Sheriff's Office Capt. Mike Nunn.

Nunn said the recent arrest of Finn was just a symptom of a much larger copper theft problem across the area.

"That's just the tip of the iceburg," he said.

Nunn said the new law could potentially provide not only some safeguards to help prevent copper theft, but also a paper trail to help track those responsible.

"Hopefully it will make a tremendous difference with both the recycler and the seller being on record with every transaction," he said.

House Bill 3660, passed by Governor Haley in June, is commonly known as the "Copper Theft Bill" and makes many changes to help regulate the transport, sale and purchase of certain nonferrous metals, most namely, copper.

Under the new law, anyone wanting to transport, sell or purchase any nonferrous metal, including copper and catalytic converters, must first obtain a permit to do so.

The permits are issued by the sheriff's office in the county where the person resides and are free of charge.

The permits which are available to the public must be obtained prior to the transport or sale of copper and there are two different types that a person may obtain.

The first is a one-year permit for those who plan to transport or sell metals frequently.

The second is a 48-hour permit that is intended only for those who plan to transport or sell nonferrous metals on a singular basis, but it may be used twice in one year.

Scrap dealers must obtain permits under the new law as well, but they have to pay a $200 fee for the permit to purchase the materials and have to pay the renewal fee every two years.

Bush's Recycling owner, George Bush, said he's already talked to friends dealing with similar experiences in other states about the impact it may have on his business.

"I've talked to some friends of mine who've talked to people in Tennessee, that have had the law for the past year or two," Bush said.

"They said for the initial first month or two, your copper will dry up and after that point it will start picking back up."

Bush said that while he feels the measure will help in terms of a paper trail, he doesn't know how much the measure will deter criminals from getting permits.

Bush said it may be an instance of the law helping to catch criminals after an offense has taken place, rather than necessarily preventing one.

In addition to the permits for sale or purchase of copper, the new law also makes it illegal for anyone to have more than 10 pounds of copper in a vehicle without a permit.

The restriction does not apply to vehicles used in the ordinary course of business for the purpose of transporting nonferrous metals.

Some counties, including Florence, are making the permit form available online to print and fill out ahead of time, though it must still be processed at the front desk of the Sheriff's Office in Effingham before it can be approved.

For more information on the new law:

http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess117_2007-2008/bills/3817.doc

Source: http://www2.scnow.com/news/pee-dee/2011/aug/16/copper-theft-law-take-effect-wednesday-ar-2283734/

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