Kansas City has tried in recent years to stop scrap metal thieves from selling their ill-gotten gains, but that hasn’t stopped them.
So the City Council approved additional restrictions Thursday to further deter the costly thefts and help law enforcement track the crimes as quickly as possible.
“We need to do it because our ordinance doesn’t do anything about catalytic converters, HVAC units and telecommunications wiring,” said Councilman Scott Wagner.
The city earlier took aim against sales of stolen manhole and water meter covers, streetlight poles and fixtures, and other scrap metal. But Wagner said churches, utilities and businesses continue to suffer from the theft of such items as air conditioning components and copper telecommunications wiring.
He proposed updating the city’s scrap metal ordinance to include those items among the categories that metal recyclers cannot purchase without proof that the seller is the owner or is authorized to sell the item.
The new law also compels scrap metal yards to record all transactions and does not allow them to accept metal items brought in by shopping cart.
At a committee hearing this week, representatives of the city, AT&T and the Kansas City Scout traffic management system all testified to an explosion of scrap metal thefts in recent years. They endorsed the proposed ordinance changes.
Park Superintendent Forest Decker said the city’s park system has suffered $815,000 in damage and losses since 2007 from the theft of copper wiring, memorial plaques, brass fixtures around fountains and other metals.
Kansas City Scout has suffered losses of $150,000 to $200,000 in the last year or so, according to incident management coordinator Rusty James.
Wagner encouraged other cities to follow Kansas City’s lead to try to dry up the area market for stolen metal goods.
“My hope is this is only a launching pad regionally,” he said.