Scraponomics Episode 97: Metal Theft Presentation (Cont.) - Michigan's Metal Theft Law

Sep 10, 2015, 03:24 PM

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” — Confucius

We’ve been discussing the metal theft issue and the philosophies behind why it happens; who’s the problem and what are some potential solutions. Today, let’s discuss Michigan’s metal theft law, itself, and how it functions.

In order to purchase scrap metal in Michigan, a scrap-processor must do an array of things. Some include:

  • Scanning the seller’s valid, government-issued, photo ID.
  • Taking a thumb scan of the seller.
  • Recording the license plate number that brought the metal to the facility.
  • Record an image of the material and seller for each transaction (this can be via photo or video).
  • The seller must sign an affidavit stating he or she owns the material being sold.
  • Maintaining a record of each transaction.
  • If the material being sold is copper wiring, it has to be tagged and held for seven days before it can be processed.

The key difference, though, between the 2008 law and the current one is a $25 mailing provision required for specific items; catalytic converters, air conditioning units (and anything within them), and copper wiring or piping. Here’s how the $25 mailing provision works.

If an individual seller sells less than $25 worth of restricted items on a given business day, he or she can collect that money from an ATM at the facility. However, if the seller sells $50 worth of restricted items, for example, all $50 must be mailed to the address on the seller’s ID via check or voucher, which the seller can then bring back to the facility for payment.

The idea behind the mailing provision is to give law enforcement an initial lead if it turns out the material sold was stolen. The question is: how effective is this? Next week, we’ll discuss some pros and cons in the law.

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