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brbrAs Prices for Scrap Metal Rise, Metal Thieves Are Looting Westchester County Homes, Universities, Businesses, Public Infrastructure and More, 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 Infrastru


Today, at the Playland Parkway in Rye, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer joined local law enforcement and other officials in Westchester County to crackdown on the recent rash of scrap metal theft in the city that threatens critical infrastructure, local residents, business owners and taxpayers. Due to the high price of iron, copper, and other metal on the market, theft in Westchester County has jumped significantly in recent years, and includes recent thefts at a Yonkers storage yard; theft of copper wire, plumbing and steel from New York Medical College; the robbery of steel oil drums from Rye Playland; ­and even an incident at the  Journal Newsheadquarters. There has also been a rise in theft of manhole covers. Thieves then sell that metal for fast cash at metal yards.Additionally, vacant buildings, businesses and facilities throughout the Hudson Valley are being stripped for metal, making it more expensive to repair damage and restore power, heating and electricity. Thieves then sell that metal for fast cash at metal yards.


Schumer's legislation would, 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 recyclers can pay for scrap metal at $100 in cash; 4) create a specific federal crime of stealing metal from critical infrastructure, and more. He cosponsors this legislation with Senator Amy Klobuchar (DMN). Schumer highlighted that this 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 safety of public facilities.


"It is time to put thieves who steal scrap metal from Westchester County homes, businesses, parks and infrastructure behind ironclad bars," said Schumer. "This practical plan will combat this 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. Westchester County police have worked tirelessly to prevent this trend from growing. But, there is still more that can be done, and I will work with Westchester County Police Departments to make sure the only metal these criminals can get their hands on is in a locked jail cell. This proposal will safeguard Hudson Valley families, first responders, business owners, and commuters who are endangered by the stripped infrastructure, fires, and financial hit as a result of these crimes."


Schumer's Metal Theft Prevention Act is aimed at deterring thieves from procuring and selling stolen metal goods. As a baseline measure, it makes stealing metal from critical infrastructure a federal crime. The Act also includes stringent documentation requirements for sellers, and recordkeeping requirements for recyclers who buy scrap metal.


Schumer was joined by Westchester County Police, local law enforcement and fire officials, Westchester County Legislative Chairman Ken Jenkins, and Sgt. Alex Rodriguez,  President of the Westchester Hispanic Law Enforcement Association. Schumer noted that local businesses, schools, homes and infrastructure have been hit the hardest lately by metal thieves. These thieves often target homes that have been recently foreclosed or vacated and then rip out the metal plumbing and copper wiring while no one is watching.


Schumer pointed to one particularly troubling case of metal theft at New York Medical College, where employees sole a variety of fixtures, including copper wire, ducts, plumbing, and steel cages. Police say the criminals netted $37,000 since they first began selling to scrap metal yards in January 2008.


Schumer highlighted another instance that occurred in 2011 when two men were caught emptying hazardous material from a large oil drum in the Rye Playland parking lot so they could sell the drum for scrap metal. Metal thefts like these directly endanger the people of Westchester as well as damage the appeal and reputation of Westchester County.


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, aside from established commercial transactions. 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.


Metal theft has become increasingly prevalent in Westchester County, and recent events suggest it could continue to rise at an alarming pace:


·  Just this week, police were alerted to a stateowned storage yard in Yonkers, where they discovered a hole had been cut in the fence. They then caught two Queens residents redhanded with $5,000 worth of steel piping they were loading into a van.


·  Also in Yonkers, Police have noted that manhole covers have been stolen throughout the City. In the summer of 2012, 4 manhole covers were reported stolen throughout the City. At a price of over $50 each, manhole covers have been targeted by criminals throughout the Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island.


·  In June, $3,000 worth of copper was stolen from a Bronxville home that was being repaired by a contractor. The thieves went so far as to steal copper gutters off the roof.


·  In May, Westchester County Police arrested seven New York Medical College employees for stealing a variety of fixtures, including copper wire, ducts, plumbing, and steel cages. Police say the criminals netted $37,000 since they first began selling to scrap metal yards in January 2008.


·  In March, an Elmsford scrap yard paid $10,000 to one man who stole 2,592 feet of copper wire. It is believed that the thief stole a total of $50,000 worth of copper wire from a site owned by The Orange and Rockland Utility Company.


·  In January, two men were caught by security footage that showed them stealing scrap metal from outside the  Journal News building at 1 Gannett Dr. in Harrison.


·  In February of 2011, two men were caught emptying hazardous material from a large oil drum in the Rye Playland parking lot so they could sell the drum for scrap metal.


·  Back in December 2010, an oil deliveryman was found to have stolen several hundred bronze water meters that had been stored by the Town of Cortlandt Water Department. He then sold the bronze meters to local scrap yards, where he received $7,000 in cash. 


·  In Port Chester, the site of the former United Hospital Center has been targeted by criminals for scrap metal. The company who now owns the site has had to hire security workers around the clock to monitor the site to secure it against vandals looking to steal scrap metal.


·  In Harrison, two brothers were caught stealing storm drains throughout the Town, creating a public safety issue for drivers and commuters alike. The two criminals were also accused of stealing other scrap metal from throughout the County.