Councilman wants state-wide crackdown on metal thieves - KCTV5

Councilman wants state-wide crackdown on metal thieves

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Last year, Kansas City passed tough new laws cracking down on copper thieves.  Now the city wants the state to do the same.

Whether it is an old piece of scrap metal or a ladder one might not trust anymore, recycling centers are a great place to get rid of old junk, but with a down economy, thieves are getting more creative than ever, and it is taking a toll.

However, there is now a push to make sure all recycling centers play by the same rules.

"You just got to keep your guard up. Keep an eye on the material. If they are bringing in 25 feet of copper I don't want it. I know it's stolen," Jeffrey Alport said.

Alport has run the with Wabash Iron and Metal Company for the past 35 years and welcomed the move, saying recycling businesses like his sometimes get a bad rap.

Last year, the city passed new laws tightening the books on scrap yards, making sure they don't buy stolen property.

But while the new laws helped within city limits, it doesn't stop anyone from driving a few minutes outside town to sell stolen materials.

"The reality is it's millions in damage that we as a city have to go through every year,"  councilman Scott Wagner said.

Wagner said the price tag is adding up, so he's testifying before lawmakers in the state capitol this week urging them to pass stronger statewide laws.

Failure to act, he says, will just lead to higher bills for everyone.

"It will mean higher insurance rates for property and homeowners. It will mean higher replacement costs for city which is then passed on to our residents," Wagner said.

The legislative session lasts into May, so it could be weeks before anyone finds out what changes if any are coming.

There are several different versions of laws dealing with the problem working their way through the House and Senate.  Wagner says he is optimistic lawmakers will come together on something that benefits everyone.

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