Fuentes, Gusciora Bill to Combat Scrap Metal Theft in NJ Clears Assembly

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Angel Fuentes (D-Camden, Gloucester) and Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) to strengthen New Jersey law concerning scrap metal sales and to stem the sale of stolen scrap metal passed the full Assembly on Monday.

Assemblyman Fuentes authored this legislation (A-2074) in response to the rise in scrap metal theft happening in Camden and other parts of the state.

As metal prices climb, thieves have been known to remove copper wiring from street lamps, and strip abandoned properties or foreclosed homes of an available metal. Even cemeteries have been hit, with thieves targeting bronze and aluminum flag holders that decorate the graves of veterans. Scrap metal dealers could be charged with possession of stolen property for purchasing such materials.

“Our cities are often victim to vandals looking for their next dollar,” Fuentes said. “Strengthening current law by requiring businesses to log every transaction will, hopefully, end the practice of stealing and selling scrap metal.”

The legislation (A-2074) requires scrap metal businesses to maintain, for at least 18 months, a record of all receipts or purchases of scrap metal, instead of only for those purchases in excess of 100 pounds or $50, as currently provided by law.

“Stealing and then ignoring the crime by buying stolen scrap metal parts are inexcusable acts of vandalism,” Gusciora said. “It’s an unnecessary financial burden on cities to replace the stolen items. This can add up for municipalities. This legislation holds scrap metal businesses accountable for every transaction and compels them to become more mindful of their purchases and customers.”

The bill also requires, with certain specified exemptions, that scrap metal businesses make payment to the person or business that owns the scrap metal being sold only by non -transferable check made payable to that person or business, to be mailed to the address of the person or business that owns the scrap metal being sold. It also specifies that scrap metal businesses may make cash payments to the person delivering the scrap metal only if a photograph of the person receiving the cash payment is taken and maintained.

Under the bill, when the scrap metal is being delivered to a scrap metal business, if the delivery of scrap metal is by motor vehicle, the business must record the license plate number of any motor vehicle which is used to deliver scrap metal. The bill also provides that no scrap metal business may purchase:

  • any metal marked with identification of a telephone, cable, electric, water, other public utility, or other government entity;
  • any utility access or water meter cover; any street light pole or fixture;
  • any road or bridge guard rail; any highway or street sign, traffic directional or control sign, or light signal;
  • any metal beer keg that is clearly marked as being property of a beer manufacturer;
  • any historical maker, grave marker or burial vase; any central air conditioner evaporator coils or condensers or catalytic converters that are nor attached to a vehicle;
  • or any metal bleachers or benches.

The provisions of the bill does not apply to purchases of those scrap metals if the seller generates and manages those metals in the ordinary course of its business. These sellers include manufacturing, industrial, government, contractor, individual or other commercial vendors or scrap metal businesses that generate or purchase or process these scrap metals in the ordinary course of business.

The bill passed 47-18-7. The Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee released the measure on Thursday, September 18th.