Senator renews call for federal metals theft law

Sen. Charles Schumer of New York backs federal legislation to mandate detailed records for scrap recyclers.

June 2, 2015
Recycling Today Staff
Legislation & Regulations Nonferrous

A May 31, 2015, news release circulated by Democratic U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York urges Congress to consider legislation designed to rein in metals theft.


The news release cites “recent copper theft along New York City’s A and C subway lines” as one reason the senator is again calling for passing such a law a priority.


“Specifically, earlier [in the week of May 24-30, 2015], approximately 500 feet of copper cable along the A and C line had been stolen from 12 spots along the tracks,” according to the news release. The copper theft disrupted morning subway service in addition to costing the transit authority money.


Schumer’s office also says, “Amtrak reports that despite their best efforts to only coat cables in copper—rendering them relatively worthless—metal theft still costs the rail line in upwards of $100,000 a year.”


The senator says his proposed legislation would “attack this problem in many practical ways,” including:


  • requiring documentation that those selling metal to recyclers own the metal or are authorized to sell it;
  • requiring recyclers to keep detailed records for purchases of metal;
  • capping the amount at $100 in cash that recyclers can pay for scrap metal; and
  • creating a specific federal crime of stealing metal from “critical infrastructure.”


Schumer, who cosponsors the law with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, has been proposing similar or identical legislation since 2012.


When Schumer initially proposed the law in 2012, the Washington-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) expressed a concern that it would overlap many existing state laws.


Currently on the Metals Theft page of its website, ISRI does not express either support for or opposition to a federal law.