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Published on Friday, February 1, 2013

AWC supporting bills to reduce metal theft

Metal theft is a serious public safety issue that continues to plague both public and private communities. Cities have been active in a metal theft workgroup brought together by Rep. Goodman (D-Kirkland), who chairs the House Public Safety Committee. This group – composed of cities, counties, law enforcement, scrap metal business owners, and utility representatives – worked on ideas for decreasing theft by regulating metal sales and giving cities more claim authority on loss and damages.

This year the Legislature has two bills that attempt to address the theft concerns, SB 5413 and HB 1552. Both bills create and increase criminal penalties for metal theft. The first offense of “engaging in scrap metal processing, recycling, or supplying without a license” is a gross misdemeanor, and the second offense is a Class C felony. These bills also create a licensing system for scrap metal processors, recyclers, and suppliers. Before being granted a scrap metal license, the processor or recycler must file a surety bond with the Department of Licensing for $10,000.

HB 1552 also establishes a task force made up of various law enforcement officials and members of the insurance industry and metal recycling and processing communities. This task force is to make recommendations to the Legislature and identify metal theft problem areas.

A metal theft alert system is created, provided at no charge to users. The system provides alerts regarding thefts of private or commercial metal in the user’s general area.

Cities have raised some technical concerns with the bill that we hope to address with the sponsor. HB 1552 is scheduled for a hearing in the House Public Safety Committee on February 7 at 10am.

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