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5/8/9 Article by Mike Sunnucks, Senior Reporter, Phoenix Business Journal
The state of Arizona has approved new rules on scrap metal dealers aimed at curbing copper and other metal thefts that have plagued commercial property owners, businesses and even churches and schools.
Gov. Jan Brewer has signed into law a measure that requires scrap metal dealers to register with the Arizona Department of Public Safety and keep track of transactions of more than $25, including photographing the metals brought in and fingerprinting sellers.
Business owners who violate the new regulations could face fines of between $500 and $2,500 per violation as well as six months in jail and loss of operating licenses. The rules do not apply to recycled beverage cans.
Copper and other metal thefts are a big problem for a host of businesses and property owners. Theft rings steal copper parts from air conditioning units, plumbing and electrical fixtures and other businesses often to feed illegal drug habits.
Everything from new home developments to churches and schools have been victimized. The thieves sometimes only get small amounts of copper from their actions but cause thousands of dollars in damages.
Property owners, including local commercial landlord Michael Pollack, have been pushing new rules on metal recyclers to try and curb the sale of stolen copper.
State prosecutors and police late last month broke up a $10 million organized theft ring that allegedly stole raw copper from an Asarco LLC mine in Hayden, Ariz. The ring allegedly stole copper by the truckloads from the mine, some of which ended up being sold to recyclers. The stolen copper was blackened so it looked like scrap metal and was shipped from Los Angeles to the Chinese black market.