(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Reed Gusciora, Sheila Oliver and Thomas Giblin to protect cemetery memorial grave markings and other items from being pilfered and sold to scrap metal businesses was approved Thursday by the General Assembly.
Under current law, it is illegal for scrapping businesses to accept stolen goods. The sponsors said that in this case the law should be more specific to particularly protect the veteran burial sites who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect this country.
Assemblyman Gusciora saw the need to strengthen the state’s scrapping laws after a memorial plaque was stolen last year from a cemetery in his district. The plaque belonged to Colonel Johann Rall who fought and died in the battle of Trenton.
“Cemetery plots should be off limits for scrapping businesses,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer, Hunterdon). “It’s a disgrace to have their tombstones raided and sold for a buck. There should be limitations on what scrapping businesses can accept and sell, especially when it comes to stolen property.”
“Many residents are having a rough time in this economy and looking for ways to make extra money,” said Oliver (D-Essex, Passaic). “Scrapping has become an easy way to earn money for families all over the country, which is OK as long as it abides by the law. However, I believe residents will agree with us that our cemeteries and the items within them should remain sacred.”
“Scrapping can be a profitable and legitimate trade,” said Giblin (D-Essex, Passaic). “However, the line must be drawn at stealing items that are placed on burial plots to commemorate loved ones. This legislation will make it clear to scrapping businesses that purchasing these items come with a price in New Jersey.”
The bill specifically provides that no scrap metal business may purchase any historical marker, grave marker or burial vase, including any items of religious significance or related to the memorialized members of the Unites States Armed Forces.
The prohibition does not apply to purchases where the selling entity generates and manages those metals in the ordinary course of its business. A selling entity includes a contractor; manufacturer; or commercial, government, or industry vendor or scrap metal business that generates or purchases or processes historical markers, grave markers, or burial vases in the ordinary course of its business.
Gusciora was also prime sponsor of law last year that require scrap metal businesses to keep records of sales transactions.
The bill was approved 70-0-0 and now awaits further consideration by the Senate.