Klobuchar requested consent to pass her legislation to crack down on metal theft and make it harder for thieves to sell stolen metal, but her effort was blocked
Last week, metal thieves robbed dozens of veterans’ graves in Minnesota, taking the brass rods that hold their symbol of service right before Memorial Day
Metal theft has jumped more than 80% in recent years, as thieves steal high-priced metal from critical infrastructure as well as businesses, homes, and churches– causing families pain and putting lives at risk
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) took to the Senate floor to request consent to pass her bipartisan bill to fight the growing problem of metal theft, but her effort was blocked. Last week, metal thieves robbed dozens of veterans’ graves in Minnesota, taking the brass rods that hold their symbol of service right before Memorial Day. On Memorial Day in 2012, thieves stole more than 200 bronze star markers from veterans' graves in Isanti County. Metal theft has jumped more than 80% in recent years, as thieves steal high-priced metal from critical infrastructure as well as businesses, homes, and churches – causing families pain and threatening public safety. The Metal Theft Prevention Act would help crack down on metal thieves and make it harder for them to sell stolen metal.
“Recent crimes like last week’s shameless robbery of veterans’ graves in Minnesota makes clear that metal theft is on the rise, and in its wake it leaves damaged infrastructure, financial hardship and personal pain,” Klobuchar said. “We need to take action now and pass this bill to help stop this crime and protect families and businesses.”
Between 2009 and 2011, the National Insurance Crime Bureau found over 25,000 insurance claims related to metal theft, an increase of 81 percent over claims made between 2006 and 2008. In a recent study, the U.S. Department of Energy found that the total value of damages to industries affected by the theft of copper wire would likely exceed $900 million each year.
The Metal Theft Prevention Act calls for enforcement by the Attorney General and gives state attorneys general the ability to bring civil actions to enforce the provisions of the legislation. It also directs the U.S. Sentencing Commission to review penalty guidelines as they relate to metal theft and make sure they are adequate. The bill also makes it an explicit federal crime to steal metal from critical infrastructure.
In addition, the legislation would also make it much tougher for thieves to sell stolen metals to scrap metal dealers. It contains a “Do Not Buy” provision which bans scrap metal dealers from buying certain items unless the sellers establish, by written documentation, that they are authorized to sell the metal in question. As a result of the bill, scrap metal dealers would be required to keep detailed records of metal purchases for two years and make them available to law enforcement agencies. The bill would also require that purchases of scrap metal over $100 be done by check instead of cash, to further help law enforcement track down thieves. Klobuchar, Graham and Schumer introduced similar legislation in the previous Congress.
Broadcast-quality video of Klobuchar’s remarks is available here.