This week, brass vases valued at $10,000 were stolen from a cemetery in Mahtomedi; Klobuchar has introduced bipartisan legislation, which recently passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, that would help crack down on thieves and make it harder for them to sell stolen metal
Metal theft has jumped more than 80% in recent years, as thieves steal high-priced metal from critical infrastructure as well as businesses, homes, churches and even veterans’ graves – causing families pain and threatening public safety
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U S. Senator Amy Klobuchar today underscored the need for legislation to crack down on metal theft after brass vases valued at $10,000 were stolen from a cemetery in Mahtomedi. Earlier this year Klobuchar introduced bipartisan legislation, along with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John Hoeven (R-ND), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), to crack down on the rise in metal theft. The legislation recently passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, paving the way for a vote in the full Senate. Metal theft has jumped more than 80% in recent years, as thieves steal high-priced metal from critical infrastructure as well as businesses, homes, churches and even veterans’ graves – 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. U.S. Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN) has introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“This latest incident of thieves stealing from cemeteries to make quick buck is another example of how metal theft is wreaking havoc in cities and towns across Minnesota,” Klobuchar said. “I worked hard to get my metal theft legislation through the Judiciary Committee, and I will continue to work to make sure it becomes law and helps give law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on metal thieves.”
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 over $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 secondary metal in question. As a result of the bill, scrap metal dealers would be required to keep detailed records of secondary 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 introduced similar legislation in the previous Congress.