- Associated Press - Friday, June 5, 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas House has approved a bill that would increase penalties for scrap metal theft.

The chamber’s vote Friday was 73-32 and sends the bill to Gov. Sam Brownback. The Senate passed the measure Thursday, 37-1.

The bill would make it a felony to do more than $5,000 worth of damage to equipment or buildings while stealing precious metal components.

The measure was supported by utilities and farmers associations who complained that damage from scrap thieves could render vital equipment inoperable for weeks.

The bill would also establish a database of scrap items and transactions to allow law enforcement agencies to find perpetrators more quickly.

Senate leaders commended Republican Sen. Mike Peterson from Wichita in a news release Thursday for his work to get the bill through the Legislature.

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