HB84: Battery Theft

By Gabriel Gledhill

SALT LAKE CITY— Disappearing automotive and industrial lead batteries has Utah law enforcement, along with others, looking for thieves and an explanation as to why items of such small monetary value are going missing so frequently.

Rep. Merrill F. Nelson, R-Grantsville is sponsoring HB84, a bill that would help eliminate this current theft problem.

A current law requires a seller of a nonferrous metal or a regulated metal to present Identification at the time of the of said item.

A nonferrous metal means a metal that does not contain significant quantities of iron or steel. These metals include copper, brass, aluminum, bronze, lead, zinc, nickel, and their alloys. Very similar is a regulated metal, which is any item composed of primarily of nonferrous metal, such as; chromium, and tin, along with the majority of the previously mentioned metals.

When a seller of one of these metals makes a sales transaction with a scrap metal recycler, they must present an identification issued by a state of the Unites States that contains a numerical number and a photograph of the person identified. Also the seller must provide their date of birth of the person identified. This includes a state identification card, a state driver license, a United States military identification card or a United States passport. The seller will then be photographed with the item that they are selling and finally sign an affidavit stating that the product for sale is theirs to sell.

The issue at hand is that automotive and industrial lead batteries are not on the list that requires such extensive identification and documentation.

Approximately 5 years ago, the crime analyst of the West Jordan police department voluntarily set up an email database to help catch the thieves of these metals that were being stolen and resold. The database consists of scrap metal recyclers, law enforcement officers and the victim community.

Previously, metals would be stolen in one city and sold in another, avoiding local authorities. The email database allows someone to alert the entire state with specific information and pictures of what was stolen, from where and who to call if the items are recovered or purchased. The program has seen great improvement in the number of metal thieves that have been apprehended.

The passing of HB84 would place automotive and industrial batteries on the list with regulated and nonferrous metals that have to be heavily documented before sold or purchased.

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