Recyclers address city commission - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Recyclers address city commission

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February 20, 2007

Albany -- Copper thefts have become a huge problem for home owners and businesses in Albany. Thieves are ripping wire and pipes out of homes and businesses, and even air conditioning units because the resell value of copper is so high.

So city commissioners drafted an ordinance to combat some of those problems and stop the thieves. The only problem is it could end recyclers legitimate business as well.

There's no argument that copper thefts are on the rise, and a huge problem in Albany. "We have to do what we can to protect the folks who live in this town and own businesses in Albany," says City Manager Alfred Lott.

That's why commissioners are taking a look at a new ordinance for nonferrous materials like copper.

It will require recyclers, like Albany Recycling to provide a list each week to the Police Chief about who they purchase copper from, get an ID number and physical address and wait 10 days until they pay for the materials, so police can have a trail in case the seller is a stealer.

"The ten day lag period for payment of people who come to our business to sell copper will not help do that in any way and will prevent my clients from operating their business the way they need to and will effectively probably put them out of business."

Al Corriere represents Albany recycling. He says the 10 day period will send business out of town to Columbus or Bainbridge to get their money sooner. "99% of the people out there doing this are legitimate mom and pop type folks."

And he says for those who aren't, they're are already doing everything possible to deter thieves. "We are already getting photo ID's, addresses and descriptions of the materials involved which should be sufficient to prosecute people who are stealing copper if the cases can be made."

President of the company, Billy Strickland says it's not his job to make the case, though he's more than willing to assist them. "We don't like being placed in the position of being a substitute for law enforcement."

And he doesn't want to be forced out of business. "We're proponents of everything they've suggested and we would be willing to do anything else they suggest that wouldn't impede our ability to do business."

"We'll work with them and see what we can do to accommodate them, we don't want to put anybody out of business, but the first priority is to the residents and businesses who are being victimized by these people," said Lott.

Albany Recycling says they don't want to have to fight for their right to do business, but if necessary, they may be forced to take the fight to court.

The ordinance isn't final. Commissioners will vote on the 28th of this month.

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