Tennessee laws make it difficult for Knoxville scrap metal thieves

Tennessee laws make it difficult for Knoxville scrap metal thieves

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Selling for $3.00 per pound, copper is a high dollar item, but now those looking to sell aren't allowed to get cash that day. Instead they have to wait five days. Selling for $3.00 per pound, copper is a high dollar item, but now those looking to sell aren't allowed to get cash that day. Instead they have to wait five days.

By HARLOW SUMERFORD
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Prices for scrap metal are on the rise again after taking a hit during the economic downturn. Are Tennessee laws put in place after the last spike helping in Knoxville?

The last spike in scrap prices in 2008 also brought a rash of crime with thieves stealing everything from copper pipes to catalytic converters. That's when state lawmakers put new rules in place to make it more difficult for crooks to turn a quick profit.

"After a couple of months of us doing the protocol we have to do now, everybody knew what is going to happen. If they want to recycle with us, that is something they have to do," says Luke Bryant, with PSC Metals.

Selling for $3.00 per pound, copper is a high dollar item, but now those looking to sell aren't allowed to get cash that day. Instead they have to wait five days.

PSC Metals also uses checks now instead of cash because law enforcement is watching for stolen goods.

"They are in here once or twice a week. They actually run stings on us to make sure we are doing the proper paperwork. It is really a great thing. We are doing fingerprints. You can't sell anything to me without having a valid license," Bryant says.

Police say theft of scrap metal is up in Knoxville, but only slightly. Many believe that's because they can no longer take their loot to the scrap yard for quick cash.

Still crooks are trying to find a way around the new rules.

"A lot of scrap yards are banning people that are convicted of these crimes, on their own say we won't do business with you. A lot of these people are trying to find someone else to go in there, but we still have the records and we can still track it back to that original person," says Ron Linkins, a detective with the police department's Property Crimes Unit.

The rules are slowing down the process, but scrap metal companies say they're spending less time in courtrooms.

The federal government reported a more than three percent increase in the price of scrap iron and steel in February.

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