Charleston, W.Va. – Four recent incidents across West Virginia involving theft of copper and selling it to scrap metal recycling locations highlights the need for citizens to be aware of a new law that requires those dealers to register with the Secretary of State’s Office.
The incidents took place in Cass, Charleston, Logan, and Ravenswood. Media outlets reported that in Logan, a man was electrocuted while police believe he was trying to steal copper.
On the Secretary of State’s Office, scrap metal dealers who have the capability to recycle copper can be found in a searchable database. The database lists the recycling center’s address, hours of operation, and phone number. There is no fee for a recycling center to register with the Secretary of State’s Office.
The database is the result of Senate Bill 528, which passed in 2012. That bill is designed to help police track down people who sell stolen material to recycling centers. In addition to helping locate people who sell stolen copper the new law also requires people who recycle more than five catalytic converters to have their fingerprints on file with the recycler, along with a copy of their ID. Catalytic converters contain valuable precious metals like platinum, palladium, and rhodium.
“Theft of copper isn’t just illegal, it is extremely dangerous and oftentimes fatal,” Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant said. “If there is nowhere to sell the stolen material, it should cut down on these types of crimes. By making this database available to the public and to the police, we are helping to make it harder for someone to sell their stolen copper to recycling centers. Dozens of recycling centers are following the law and registering, showing that they stand with this office and the police in eliminating a foolish crime that can result in power outages for thousands of people or death for the ones who try to commit it.”
The database can be found here on the Secretary of State's website.
West Virginia State Police also say citizens can report copper theft by calling their local detachment or by using the website www.scraptheftalert.com.