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Loose Scrap Metal Laws In Other States Keep Mississippi Criminals In Business

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 15 Apr 2014 04:48pm | comments
Officials from Mississippi and surrounding states are trying to cut down on the illegal sale of metals stolen in the state but sold elsewhere. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that tougher laws in Mississippi have pushed criminals to turn to other states to sell the metals.
 
At scrap yards in Mississippi, like General Recycling in Flowood, metal buyers are required to pay close attention to what they buy and, in cases of metals like copper, report every sale to an online database for police.
 
The law has been in place since 2008, and supporters say it has been successful at decreasing copper theft.
 
However, lax laws in other states are still allowing criminals to thrive on metals stolen in Mississippi.
 
Attorney General Jim Hood says Mississippi is trying to work with those states to tighten their laws and cut down on the interstate market.
 
"We think that by getting both federal and state law enforcement together we can work toward making our legislation all the same. And by having cooperative efforts across state lines," Hood said.
 
General Recycling Manager Don LeMar says scrap buyers have a stake in making sure the scrap they buy is legal.
 
"For example, we buy a car that is stolen and it is identified to us that it is stolen we have to give the property back. And we take the hit on anything we paid for it. So we do not want to buy anything illegal," LeMar said.
 
Mississippi has been a leader among southern states cracking down on illegal metal sales according to Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann who oversees the sales tracking program.
 
"At one point, we were having rampant problems on the coast when we put this through. And our reports from the police departments was that were was a significant decline in copper theft," Hosemann said.
 
Other states have laws covering the sale of scrap but only Arkansas uses Mississippi's model of tracking sales on the Internet.
 
Hosemann says the state will have to work closely with its neighbors in order to further decrease metal theft in Mississippi.

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