Recycler wants the focus on crooks - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Recycler wants the focus on crooks

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February 7, 2007

Albany -- Metal recyclers say the solution to recent copper thefts isn't to impose restrictions on them, the solution is to catch the thieves.

The city commission is considering an ordinance to require people who sell copper to recyclers to prove it's legally theirs. Recyclers say that will hurt their business.    

Two hundred people a day sell metal to Albany Recycling Services. Owners say on average, they buy nearly 15,000 pounds of copper, brass, and tin.

But they're also the place where thieves take stolen copper to cash it in. So City Commissioners want them to make sure what they're buying is legal.  

Albany Recycling Services General Manager Lyle Jeffcoat said, "We do not know that we are buying stolen material. And when that was brought up in the meeting yesterday, that pretty much attacked our character and our integrity."

Metal buyers will now have to require identification and an address from sellers and defer payment for ten days. Jeffcoat says that will make his customers take their business to another city.  "We know they will go somewhere else. Five or ten pounds, we think they will save it up and take it somewhere else."

Jeffcoat says city leaders are asking him to profile his customers, and decide who to call police on.  "For us to say that it is stolen from this person, just because of the way they look, you know that's just wrong," Jeffcoat said.

But dozens of businesses, churches, and people in Albany have had their air conditioners, wiring, or plumbing stripped for the copper, which sells for almost two dollars a pound.

City leaders took steps to try to stop the thefts, and Jeffcoat say recyclers will follow the new law, despite worry that it will cost them.    

Jeffcoat says he'd rather see the General Assembly tackle the issue so that every metal buyer in the state will have to abide by the same laws.


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