Copper theft is more than illegal.
Commission of the crime can lead to the thief being seriously injured or killed.
At around $2.40 a pound with ready availability, the state has had issues with copper theft. Recent incidents took place in Cass, Charleston, Ravenswood and Logan, where a man was electrocuted while trying to steal copper, according to police.
Fortunately, the West Virginia Legislature passed a bill amending the state code to make it easier for law enforcement to keep track of sold copper, and local officials say that it seems to be making a difference.
“You can’t just take stuff in any more without our guys checking it,” said Marion County Sheriff Joe Carpenter. “I think it kinda has helped us out.”
Senate Bill 528, which amends the state code on scrap metal purchasing and sale, requires all scrap metal dealers to register with the secretary of state and provide their “business address, hours of operation, physical address, phone number, facsimile number ... and the name of the owners or principal operators.”
Recycling centers are not charged a fee for registering with the secretary of state’s office.
Basically, this means that the state has a record of everyone legally dealing in scrap metals in the state and makes it easier to ensure that proper record-keeping is taking place.
The bill also provides that anyone selling more than five catalytic converters, special devices that cut down on vehicle pollution, must certify that they may legally sell the objects and provide a thumbprint for records. Catalytic converters contain precious metals such as platinum, palladium and rhodium.
The law making it tougher to profit from copper theft actually helps protect potential thieves.
“Theft of copper isn’t just illegal; it is extremely dangerous and oftentimes fatal,” Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant said.
“I know of instances where people have lost limbs because of it,” Carpenter added. “Even if you think something’s loose, it could be looking for a ground.
“I’m no electrician but ... if you’re near that power, you’ll become that ground.”
The bill’s principle is to do all possible to shut down the market for stolen copper.
“If there is nowhere to sell the stolen material, it should cut down on these types of crimes,” Tennant said. “By making this database available to the public and to the police, we are helping to make it harder for someone to sell their stolen copper to recycling centers.”
There is evidence that the law is working.
Since it went into effect in June, Marion County has had only a handful of copper thefts. The most high-profile thefts in the past year were in April, when a gang of three men stripped copper from cellphone towers in the county, and August, when a man was caught selling thousands of dollars in copper wire to a local recycling center.
In the latter case, the man was caught because of record-keeping and communication between the center, the business it was stolen from and police. Carpenter said those kinds of records make it much easier for law enforcement to do their jobs.
As the sheriff noted, few owners are “willing to jeopardize” their business by knowingly buying stolen copper.
Possible copper thefts can be reported directly to a West Virginia State Police detachment or by using the website www.scraptheftalert.com. The database can be found on the secretary of state’s website at www.wvsos.com.
Anyone entertaining the thought of copper theft must get the message that they most likely won’t profit from their adventure and there is a real chance they could be killed in the attempt.
Copper theft is more than illegal.
State must convince parents, schools about benefits of Common Core
It’s always nice to have a little bit of background information before diving into something new.
So we have to agree with West Virginia Board of Education president Gayle Manchin when she says the state should have done a better job of explaining Common Core standards when they were first introduced.
Those standards, part of a national educational initiative that sets learning goals designed to prepare students in kindergarten through 12th grade for college and career, will be fully implemented in every West Virginia school district next month.
Time is now for Tomblin to support King Coal Highway
U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., is asking Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to add the King Coal Highway project to West Virginia’s six-year highway improvement plan. It is a logical request, and one that Tomblin should act promptly on.
United effort to keep NASA in Fairmont is essential project
The high-technology sector is obviously vital to the economy of North Central West Virginia.
That’s why a strong, united effort to keep the NASA Independent Verification and Validation Program in Fairmont is absolutely essential.
COLUMN: Calling all readers: Be heard
I love to talk to readers.
I love to hear concerns they have about stories we’ve written, things they think should be included in the newspaper and things they think shouldn’t be.
Korean War veterans are deserving of a memorial
NEEDED: A total of $10,000 for the Korean War Memorial this year.
And a good man has been placed in charge of the funding. Charlie Reese, former president of the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, is now director of the Marion County Development Office. His task was to make a recommendation as to what steps are necessary to keep the project moving.
Roll up your sleeves, give blood and you can save lives
It takes up to 100 units of blood to save the life of someone who sustains life-threatening injuries in a vehicle accident.
We’re hoping that the number of people who come to Fairmont Senior High School on Friday for and American Red Cross blood drive will exceed that amount.
Vehicles and motorcycles must share the road safely
The days are long. The weather is superb. There’s plenty of leisure time in these lazy days of summer.
It’s the perfect time to take a long motorcycle ride.
It’s also the perfect opportunity for us to take the time to remind not only riders but drivers of the need to share the road. And we feel compelled to mention it because just within the month of July, there have been two motorcycle-versus-car accidents within the City of Fairmont alone — one with severe injuries sustained by the motorcyclist and the other with less serious injury.
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Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life
Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.
COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?
Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.
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