SCHUMER: WITH SPIKE IN PRICE OF IRON, COPPER, AND OTHER METALS, CROOKS ARE STEALING FROM HOMES, BUSINESSES EVEN RAILWAYS SENATOR LAUNCHES PLAN TO CRACK DOWN ON THEFT FROM CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE THAT ENDANGERS BINGHAMTON RESIDENTS
brAs Prices for Scrap Metal Rise, Metal Thieves Are Looting Binghamton Homes, Businesses Nearby Railroads, Then Selling for Fast Cash at Metal Yards; Schumer Plan Would Crackdown on Thieves Provide Law Enforcement New Tools to Protect Residents, InfrastructurebrbrSchumer Bill Would Require Metal Sellers to Provide Proof of Ownership, Limit Cash Payments from Recyclers for Scrap Metal to $100, Make it a Federal Offense to Steal Metal from Critical Infrastructure MorebrbrSchumer: Time to Put Met
Today, at 33 Pulaski Street in the Town of Dickinson, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer was joined by local law enforcement and other officials to push legislation that would crackdown on the recent rash of scrap metal theft in the region that threatens private property, local residents, and taxpayers. Due to the high price of iron, copper, and other metal, Broome County has seen a significant number of scrap metal burglaries and larcenies in the area, including multiple cases just this month. So far this November, 8,000 pounds of metal valued at $15,000 were stolen from a Conklin business; copper pipes were stolen from a vacant home on Crary Ave. in Binghamton; a man was arrested in the process of removing copper pipes on Walnut Street; and in nearby Chenango County, two men were arrested for stealing sections of New York Susquehanna and Western railway to sell for scrap, using blow torches to cut sections of the railway. Additionally, vacant homes throughout Binghamton are being stripped for metal, making it more expensive to bring those houses up to code and get them occupied by local families.
Schumer's proposal would attack this problem in many practical ways: 1.) require documentation that those selling metal to recyclers own the metal or are authorized to sell it; 2.) require recyclers to keep detailed records for purchases of metal; 3.) cap the amount at $100 in cash that recyclers can pay for scrap metal; 4.) create a specific federal crime of stealing metal from critical infrastructure, and more. Schumer, who cosponsors this legislation with Senator Klobuchar (DMN), highlighted that metal theft can cause serious danger to school children, commuters, first responders, and local residents, as these thieves can cause fires when utilizing blow torches to remove metal and can seriously compromise the integrity of public facilities.
"It is time to put thieves who steal scrap metal from Binghamton homes, businesses, and infrastructure behind ironclad bars," said Senator Schumer. "My legislation is a practical plan that will combat the rash of metal theft by requiring recyclers to keep detailed documentation of metal purchases, capping the amount of cash recyclers can pay for scrap metal, ensuring that those selling metal are authorized to do so, and by making metal theft a federal crime. With an increasing number metal thefts over the past few years, particularly in homes that the city is attempting to redevelop, the time is now to give local law enforcement the tools to find these thieves and put them behind bars. This proposal will safeguard Broome County families, schoolchildren, 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 was joined by Broome County Executive Debbie Preston, Broome County Sheriff David Harder, Town of Dickinson Supervisor Michael Marinaccio and Yvonne Mezelek, the owner of 33 Pulaski St. in the Town of Dickinson, which was stripped of heaters, gas hookups, piping and more.
"We applaud Senator Schumer's actions in trying to crack down on this growing problem not only in our area, but nationwide," says Broome County Executive Debbie Preston. "This new legislation will hopefully make these metals less enticing for thieves and will cut down on metal related crimes."
These instances make it more expensive and difficult for local officials to find developers or potential buyers willing to invest in the home or business property and occupy it - leading to more homes remaining vacant throughout Binghamton. City officials say that they have routinely become aware of homes throughout the city that have been stripped of their metal.
Schumer's plan stipulates that for those who sell scrap metal, the documentation requirement will indicate whether they own and/or are authorized to sell their metal, and only applies to metal products that would likely be owned by government entities or companies, and not private citizens. For recyclers, the recordkeeping requirement would mandate that they keep basic records of all purchases, such as the date of the purchase, a description of the metal, the amount paid, and the name and address of the seller. In addition, the Schumer's metal theft legislation states that recyclers may not pay over $100 in cash for metal. Above $100, scrap metal sellers will have to be paid by check, money order, or online, aside from established commercial transactions.
While some responsible recyclers already employ similar restrictions, all it takes is one or two bad actors in a region to give the thieves enough incentive to steal. The provisions of the bill can be enforced by both the U.S. Attorney General and state attorneys general. The U.S. Sentencing Commission is directed to review and make any necessary changes to ensure that the penalties laid out in the guidelines appropriately reflect the serious nature of metal theft.
Schumer provided a few recent examples of metal theft in the Southern Tier, as it has become increasingly prevalent in Broome County and the surrounding region:
- Just last week, a 20 year old admitted to removing approximately 8,000 pounds of various metal tire rims and other miscellaneous metal parts, valued at about $15,000 from a Conklin business.
- On November 13 th, a 35year old man was arrested at a vacant house on Crary Ave. in Binghamton with cutting tools, while removing copper pipes.
- That same day, November 13 th, a 43 year old man was arrested on Walnut St. in Binghamton was also found in the process of removing copper pipes and a 34 year old Binghamton man was arrested when running from a residence after trying to illegally enter with cutting tools.
- Also on November 13, 2013, in nearby Chenango County, two men were arrested for allegedly stealing sections of New York Susquehanna and Western railway and selling the metal for scrap. The men are suspected of using torches to cut sections of rail way and then turning them in for money.
- In October 2013, a man was arrested after a home on Chapin St. in Binghamton, which was occupied at the time, had been broken into and copper pipes removed from the basement, ultimately disrupting the water supply.