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Scrap metal yards see effects of metal theft law

11:20 PM, Jan 29, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In the six months since a new metal theft law has been enforced, Abanti Auto Salvage and Recycling Center said it has seen a tremendous increase in communication with law enforcement.

"Tons of email. It can be from Clay, Duval, St. Johns, Nassau," said Laurie Guise, Manager of Abanti Auto Salvage and Recycling Center.

A Florida statute requires all scrap metal yards to keep extensive information on each customer transaction -- each person that shows up trying to unload copper and other metals.

"It's going to be anywhere from his eye color, hair color, weight, description of his vehicle, down to his tag," said Guise.

And it seems to be working. Abanti Auto Salvage says Jacksonville Sheriff's Office metal theft detectives have reported a 45 percent decrease in metal theft since the law went into effect, but the crime is still affecting many.

"People are out there doing it and it's a shame. People are hurting for money and they'll do anything to make a buck and I'm the one who loses," said Bob Tarris, a recent burglary victim.

Tarris believes he is a victim of metal theft. He has rental property he's been trying to sell, and when he checked on it this weekend, he found the door open, his refrigerator gutted and missing parts and his AC unit was gone.

"They left a lot of metal behind, but I guess they took what they could sell," said Tarris.

But now, if the thieves try to sell an undocumented unit or its parts to a scrap metal yard, it will be rejected. The statue also restricts the sale of certain metals and items unless there is proof of ownership.

"AC units are your big thing and doing our part, as we've been educating them when they come in that they actually have to go back and get the letter and then come back into us and they can sell it," said Guise.

If JSO is interested in a specific sale, they can access a database and look at any customer transaction and even look at pictures of the items that they are interested in.  

"It's been tremendously helpful. Anything that we can utilize to enforce the crime is going to be to our benefit," said Officer Shannon Hartley, Public Information Officer with JSO.

First Coast News

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