New law could help police crack down on copper thefts
CREATED Jul. 24, 2013
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A new law could help police around the Valley crack down on the growing crime of copper theft.
The law will allow recycling yards to send law enforcement information on scrap metal purchases electronically.
"We need to send a message to the bad actors out there that this is not a place to look for criminal activity cause they're going to get caught," said Warren Hardy, consultant for SA Recycling.
Hardy said the recycling yard is already required to keep records about sellers including a copy of their identification, fingerprints and items sold. The yards have to turn that information over to police, if requested. The new law will allow that information to be sent electronically through a computer.
The goal: Help track down criminals trying to cash in on stolen goods.
"It's a way to make law enforcement's job easier to help us to get the bad actors and those who are taking advantage of this industry," said Hardy.
From stolen air conditioners to ripped off pipes, Action News has investigated numerous complaints over the past few months from people who say they are victims of copper thieves.
Henderson Police already use an electronic system to track scrap metal purchases, said spokesman Keith Paul. The city has one yard within its jurisdiction.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police would not say how they collect their information or if they plan to accept information electronically because they do not want criminals to know their investigative techniques, said spokesman Officer Larry Hadfield.
Hardy said there are roughly two dozen scrap metal recycling yards across the metro area.
"It's going to make a difference because it's going to save a lot of time," said state Senator David Parks, who sponsored the bill. "It's going to eliminate the necessity to scan records and documents."
The last sticking point is privacy. Hardy said the yards want to protect their customers' information if it's handed over to police through a third-party, electronic system.
Nevada's Division of Industrial Relations is currently working to establish rules overseeing third-party vendors and privacy issues, said spokeswoman Teri Williams in an email.
Lawmakers approved the measure, SB 235, during the 2013 legislative session. The law is set to take effect Oct. 1.