Gov. Snyder signs bill to block scrap metal thefts

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday signed legislation intended to crack down on sales of stolen scrap metal, widely cited as a motive for destructive vandalism in Detroit.

Michigan scrapyards that buy copper wire, air conditioners and catalytic converters will only be able to pay sellers by mail for sales of more than $25.

“We cannot allow metal thieves to damage our homes, farms, utilities, businesses, schools and other public properties,” Snyder said in a statement. “By damaging traffic signals, street lights and road signs, these criminals endanger Michiganders. We’ve been working with our partners in the Legislature from both sides of the aisle on this critical issue for two years to find a solution that protects residents and law-abiding people in the industry.”

Scrapyards will have to take photos or video of metal they buy. Sellers could only be paid by check or money order, or they could redeem their money at an onsite ATM.

In Michigan, especially Detroit, thieves are targeting abandoned dwellings, construction sites and even occupied premises to strip copper wiring, plumbing, window air conditioners and the like. The number of reported crimes nearly tripled between 2011 and 2012.

Snyder and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan called for action on the issue that was worked on for more than 2 ½ years before legislators struck a deal last month.

“This is a common-sense solution to make sure we address crime across the state while allowing honest people to continue a legitimate way of making a living,” said House Speaker Jase Bolger, R-Marshall. “I spent some time recently walking through neighborhoods in Detroit and saw houses literally stripped of metals and neighborhoods stripped bare of everything but blight.

“This is a good day not just for Detroit but for the entire state as we address the problem of scrap metal theft.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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