New metal theft legislation raise concerns with business owners - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

New metal theft legislation raise concerns with business owners

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

When James Crawford pulled into the parking lot of Mount Gilead Baptist Church on Friday afternoon and he noticed something a bit strange.  The air conditioning units had been stripped of their copper.

Crawford says this is not the first time the church has been hit. A little over a year ago, the church spent over $10,000 replacing the unit and will probably have to do the same again. 

The thieves who got away with the copper inside the units could soon find themselves behind bars thanks to a new bill passed in February. The bill is aimed at cracking down on metal thieves by putting strict regulations on metal recycling businesses like Earl Davis who owns Davis & Son's in Harris County.

He says he's not looking forward to July 1 of this year when the bill goes into effect.

"Some aspects of it are fine but other aspects of it are going to be very burdensome and troublesome to the scrap metal dealer. It is going to burdensome and troublesome to the public," Davis said. 

The bill would not allow scrap metal dealers to offer cash payments for metal purchases and require metal recycles to collect a digital image of the metal items, plus a thumbprint and copy of a valid identification card from the seller. 

The bill also requires that metal recyclers collect a thumbprint and a copy of a valid identification card from regulated sellers. The bill also would create a statewide database on buyers and sellers, making metal dealers like Davis shell out cash that they just don't have. 

"The money is going to have to come from somewhere and the scrap metal business why it's good. It is not good enough where we can give away $40 to $50,000," Davis said. 

State legislators were in town Tuesdsay to get feedback from local business owners. The overall goal is to keep copper thieves from stealing from folks like James Crawford who is still without an AC unit for his church.

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