BY ANGELA MATUA
Following a commuting nightmare for A train riders last week caused by the theft of copper cable in Howard Beach, Senator Charles Schumer is pushing for legislation to crack down on scrap metal theft in New York.
Several copper wire thefts have been reported in the last few years, including a 2013 incident in which more than 15 MTA employees working for the LIRR stole copper wire from a rail yard. According to the NYPD Transit and the MTA, there have been approximately 12 incidents of copper theft along the subway in 2015.
Schumer’s plan would require that those who sell metal to recyclers have documentation to prove that they own the metal or are authorized to sell it. The legislation would also make it mandatory for recyclers to keep detailed records of their metal purchases and cap the amount at $100 in cash that recyclers can pay for scrap metal.
According to a press release, the proposal would also make it a federal crime for people to steal metal from critical infrastructure.
“It is time to put thieves who steal scrap metal from critical mass transit infrastructure, as well as homes and businesses, behind ironclad bars,” Schumer said. “Every ounce of copper or metal stolen from New York’s critical infrastructure could cause the next big commuter delay, a subway line suspension or even a disaster. That’s why this plan must be enacted—because it takes the cold-hard-cash incentive out of the metal theft equation and would deter metal thieves before they steal.”
For sellers, only metal products that would likely be owned by government entities and properties would require documentation. For recyclers, the record keeping requirement would mandate that they keep the date of the purchase, description of the metal, the amount paid and the name and address of the seller.
If recyclers want to pay more than $100 for metal, they would have to pay by check, money order or online.
“This proposal will safeguard New York families, schoolchildren, straphangers, business owners and first responders who are endangered by the stripped infrastructure, fires and financial losses that occur as a result of these crimes,” Schumer said.