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Fifth District Legislators React to Veto of Scrap Metal Theft Bill

Stress the Need for Reforms at a State Level to Deter Thieves, Prevent Costly Damage

(TRENTON) — Assemblymen Angel Fuentes and Gilbert “Whip” Wilson and Senator Donald Norcross (all D-Camden/Gloucester) released the following statement Monday in response to the veto of their bill to combat scrap metal theft.

The veto comes as a surprise given the multiple published reports of ongoing scrap metal theft across the state, bipartisan support for the measure in the Legislature, and the fact that the sponsors worked closely with both the state’s recycling industry and the governor’s administration in crafting the legislation. The bill was improved following months of constructive discussions with various scrap metal businesses, and included provisions specifically requested by the state attorney general’s office.

“An explosion in Trenton that damaged three homes last week because a copper thief loosened a gas line is one of multiple incidents across the state,” said Assemblyman Fuentes. “Had anyone been in those homes, they could have been tragically killed. I don’t know how much more needs to occur for the state to take measures against this growing epidemic, but I’m open to suggestions.”

“Too many churches, schools, and homes have been damaged by scrap thieves,” Assemblyman Wilson said. “We need to protect our residents, and it has to be done statewide. We will continue to fight for reforms that make it very difficult for thieves to do business in our state.”

“The cost of scrap theft continues to rise while our communities and residents continue to pay the price,” said Senator Norcross. “Victims across New Jersey face thousands of dollars in property repairs. We can’t continue standing by while careless vandals make easy money while leaving destruction in their wake.”

The bill sought to deter such activity by reducing the prevalence of quick cash-for-scrap transactions. It required that all payments be made by non-transferable check unless the seller has a photo ID on file with the scrap company, and that these businesses only accept deliveries made by motor vehicle, allowing the company to record the buyer’s plates and driver’s license.