Should recyclers be more closely regulated re: stolen property?

Thieves take bronze grave markers in Downey cemetery

This is happening more and more as thieves steal any metal that can be recycled for cash. Some buildings have been stripped of copper plumbing, highway guardrails have been stolen and electrical wiring stripped, frequently from buildings that are still in use.

Should recyclers be subject to the same regulations as pawn shops, who have to keep a record of all the items they purchase and who sold them? How could a recycler buy a bronze memorial plaque without knowing it was stolen?

I am in Oz so ymmv. The last time I took some stuff to the scrap metal dealer I had to produce photo id and fill out paperwork. I thought this to be quite sensible. I don’t know if this was just the policy of the business or mandated by law but I would put my money on the latter.

Yes, they should. Anyone accepting metal for its cash value should be required to keep a record of who they bought from. Since digital cameras are so cheap, they should be required to take a picture as well, and hold the picture for 30 days.

I agree that they should be treated like pawnshops. People out here are stealing such things as manhole covers and those big blue mailboxes.

No. That would make recycling less cost effective.

Add: I guess I should say not ALL recyclers. But if you want to consider certain items, maybe. It depends on the item.

Clearly, recycling is too cost effective when it fosters the wholesale stripping of the public infrastructure. Recycling at all costs is not in the public interest.

Are you serious? If so that is funny.

There was a huge sting operation in my local area a few years ago. One of the bait items were spools(table size) of wire from PG&E with the labels intact.

And a number of recyclers offered cash.

The way it should be is;

Bringing in copper piping or a manhole cover? Excuse us while we call the police.

I would bet that over 95% of either of those two items being brought in are stolen. It should be blatantly OBVIOUS that new looking copper pipe is stolen, so there is simply no excuse for it by recycling firms. They know they’re dealing in stolen merchandise and they should be prosecuted for it. They go out of business because they’re all in jail? Sorry, maybe the next guy to run this business will try not to be a Fence.

Manhole cover sure, but we did a home renovation in which we removed a second kitchen and a bathroom, and relocated the main kitchen and two other bathrooms. (Explanation: the house had been converted into a boarding house and some point, my partner changed it back.) Our contractor hauled quite a LOT of copper piping, some of it reasonably new, to a recycling center. True, abandoned foreclosed homes are common targets for thieves, but there is a lot of waste generated from perfectly legitimate sources as well.

The local recyclers seem to do that already, but I don’t think they pay close attention to large truckloads, but they examine contents of pickup trucks or single items brought in.

Some church bells were stolen here recently, but quickly recovered. A bronze statue was stolen from the home of the late Anthony Quinn, speculation was it was melted down before being scrapped. Boyfriend of someone who used to work for me was arrested and jailed for stealing an aluminum screen door. They pegged every stolen aluminum item in the area on him.

I have heard this regarding other thefts, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense. What is the recycled value of several hundred pounds of bronze, versus the cost of fuel to melt it down? That’s a lot of natural gas or coal for a furnace large enough to reduce a moderate sized statue, which reduces any profit from recycling, not to mention the labor involved. Bronze isn’t exactly a precious metal. I’m not sure I am buying the “melted down” theory.

I assumed the melted down part meant only melted enough to make it unrecognizable. You’re right that it would be costly to melt and remold it, but thieves aren’t always that bright. Note the guy who may still be in jail for stealing a screen door.

In addition to tighter regulation to cover identification of “customers”, there should be frequent stings by police to catch crooked dealers.

Speaking of which, there’ve been junkyard and scrap metal dealers handling “used metal” sales for about a gazillion years. When did they start being referred to as “recyclers” as though they were Al Gore’s handmaidens in the Green Movement? These are guys out to make a buck like a lot of businesses, and if there weren’t so many shady ones we wouldn’t be seeing such a plague of thefts.

They also steal catalytic converters. I know someone who had the catalytic converter stolen out of his truck which was parked in his driveway in a residential area.

I was actually looking for a link for metal stolen from a school for homeless kids, but was overwhelmed by all the links.

I don’t think its at all funny.

It’s very serious. Missing manhole covers are potentially very dangerous. They cost a few hundred to replaceand the thieves get less than $10 for them.

I worked in this industry for 10 years. It is very lucrative.
We were a legitimate Scrap Yard and we worked closely with the sheriffs dept. We would call them out if the merchandise was questionable. We would not pay with cash and we insisted on a thumb print from customers. There were other measures we took too. But right next door was a not so legit place. They would pay with cash, they would buy anything, no questions asked. The sheriffs were over at that other yard a lot, but there was really little they could do to stop the buying and selling since for the most part, they could not prove an item was stolen.
I found it very frustrating.

Not only that, some people are just stupid and wasteful. I have a friend who dumpster dives, not out of necessity, but because she likes to recycle. Her “trash team” sometimes finds good and quite new metal thrown away. Their record find was several hundred pounds of copper in the form of pots, pans, kitchen items, and cabinet doors being thrown out by a woman cleaning out a dead relatives’ house. They couldn’t believe it at first and thought it must be some sort of mistake and asked the woman about the stuff. She told them yes, she had put it out to be picked up by the garbage collector and they were welcomed to take it.

How do I change the links to have cool titles?

ZPG That’s terrible. I understand that cleaning out deceased person’s home would be stressful, but she should have left the good stuff by the street. Making people dumpster dive for it is degrading.

I have been known to dumpster dive at work. No stinky food trash, just things that random people dump. I found a large dog crate that was missing the screws to hold it together. I gave it to a coworker who was thrilled.