According to a police detective with Fayetteville’s police department, theft of metal has been on the decline in recent years, but lawmakers still saw it as a problem that needed to be addressed.
A new law took effect in North Carolina on Oct. 1 that is intended to thwart metal theft in the state. The Metal Theft Prevention Act was last modified two years ago requiring people who want to sell scrap metal to provide valid identification. The law is now even stricter, requiring sellers to have their picture taken with the scrap metal they sell.
The purpose of the new law is to be able to better identify scrap metal that has been stolen. It allows businesses that buy scrap metal to ask for proper identification from scrap metal sellers without suggesting that the scrap metal is stolen. Additionally, the new law allows police to stop by scrap metal yards at any time to make sure the new laws are being followed.
When a person is arrested on suspicion of stealing scrap metal, he or she could be charged with a Class H felony if between $1,000 and $10,000 of property damage results. A Class H felony conviction can then result in between five and 20 months in prison. When there is more than $10,000 in property damage, Class F felony charges could apply, which carry a sentence of 13 months to 35 months in prison.
Business owners who purchase stolen scrap metal could also face criminal charges for possession of stolen property. If you have been charged with a crime such as possession of stolen property or theft, remember that, under the U.S. Constitution, you are innocent until proven guilty. Between unreliable police reports, mishandled evidence and untrustworthy testimony, there are many defenses that could apply to your case.
Source: Fayetteville Observer, “New law in North Carolina aims to combat metal thefts,” Caitlin Dineen, Nov. 5, 2012