Metals Theft: Finding a Solution through Collaboration Conference of Western Attorneys General July 22, 2013
David Youngberg Background General Manager of WMR Englewood CO recycling facility 25 years scrap industry experience Originally served in Provo, UT, then moved to Englewood, CO in 2003 Currently serving on the Colorado Metal Theft Task Force Institute for Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) Member
Scrap Recycling Industry Overview Recycling is a sophisticated, capital-intensive industry and the first link in the manufacturing supply chain that employs more than 137,000 people with well-paying jobs. $100 billion industry in 2011 ISRI is a D.C. based trade association with 21 state and local chapters, including the Pacific Northwest Chapter Represents 1,700 private, for- profit companies Operates at more than 5,000 facilities in the United States, 30 countries worldwide We process, broker, and consume scrap commodities such as: metals paper electronics rubber plastics glass and textiles
The Problem: Metals Theft Criminals steal metals such as copper wire and try to sell it as legitimate scrap metal. Scrap material is fungible – without a unique identifying marking, there is usually no way to prove the metal offered for sale is the metal that was stolen. It is a crime of opportunity where criminals target readily accessible material that is rarely marked and secured by property owners. Enforcement Difficulties: Enforcement of existing metals theft laws is sporadic at best due to limited resources, low priority with prosecutors, and conflicting laws that vary by jurisdiction. Criminals take advantage of the system and a myriad of differing state and local laws. Numerous illogical legal remedies are being proposed that are difficult to enforce.
Attorney General Van Hollen learns about the scrap metal and recycling industry. Scrap Metal Recyclers are Part of the Solution Scrap Metal Recyclers assist law enforcement on the front line with: Recordkeeping Monitoring for stolen goods Community outreach Photographs/Video Even fingerprinting (in some states) But… There lacks common-sense coordination among the states which encourages theft and leads to enforcement problems.
WMR’s Position We don’t want to purchase stolen material! We comply fully with the state and local requirements currently operating in NV, UT, and CO. We work in cooperative efforts with other recyclers, law enforcement officers and ISRI to mitigate scrap theft problems. We help law enforcement agencies and victims. All employees assist in these efforts.
Other WMR Best Practices WMR’s staff provides visual inspections of inbound loads, and brings greater scrutiny to suppliers (we get to know them). WMR developed a “do not purchase” material list unless supplied by originator of metal. Examples: utility branded wire, beer kegs, rail road scrap, new production products, bleachers, grocery carts and irrigation equipment - just to name a few. Fraud Prevention and Suspect Material Identification Training is required for all Managers, Greeters, Scale Operators, Inspectors and Cashiers.
Victims Law Enforcement Scrap Industry COOPERATION What REALLY works…and it’s proven.
Nationwide Theft Alert System Alerting recyclers of a theft is the most effective way to catch thieves.
Nationwide Success!! $1.3 million recovered in stolen property. 242 reported arrests/warrants issued. Nearly 17,000 registered users. More than 6,000 law enforcement users. The recycling industry takes its role as part of the solution seriously
Law Enforcement Outreach Full Time Law Enforcement Liaison (Gary Bush) –Retired 35-year Veteran Law Enforcement Officer –Resource for both law enforcement and recyclers NEW: Law Enforcement Training Program –Pilot Programs (VA & FL) –TASK force comprised of all stakeholders –Plans to go nationwide
WMR’s Success Story 1.Production material brought into WMR’s Englewood facility. 2.Recognized as questionable material by management after transaction. (why would this category/type of supplier have possession of this material?) 3.Received ISRI alert for material matching description of purchased material – terrific timing and communication. 4.By utilizing WMR’s records -- scanned ID, photos of material, and photo of seller at time of payment – helps identify individual who brought in the stolen material. 5.Collaborative efforts on behalf of WMR, law enforcement and victim leads to prosecution of thieves.
State of the Union: What States Regulate Now 49 states with metals theft laws on the books 49 with recordkeeping provisions 24 with reporting 28 with cash restrictions 28 with licensing or registration requirements Stakeholder collaboration to aid enforcement of existing laws is the solution, not enactment of additional laws.
Federal Metals Theft Legislation S. 394 introduced in Senate & H.B. 867 in the House –Sponsors say more needs to be done. –Creates criminal penalties that federal prosecutors or state AGs must enforce. Addresses recordkeeping, cash restrictions & criminal penalties –Most states already have laws on these provisions. –Potentially harms enforcement efforts by creating differing standards. Could undermine state laws –Preemption “exemption” is confusing at best. –Adds a confusing layer that will likely result in legal challenges.
State Attorneys General Can Help Provide consistent guidance to state and local government that will ensure universal interpretation of the law within the state. Avoids conflicting policy and loopholes for criminals to exploit. Eliminates cross border (state, local, fed) movement of materials to circumvent laws. Develop a coordinated list with fellow Attorney Generals of accepted restrictions on controlled materials. Protects utilities, municipalities, railroads, and other property owners. Gives recyclers consistent guidance. Prevents “forum-shopping” by criminals for path of least resistance. Control access to sensitive data reported by recyclers by eliminating use of commercial for- profit third party vendors. Legitimate contractual obligations leave recyclers with no legal recourse if data is breached or otherwise misused or misdirected by private vendors. Private personally-identifiable customer & commercial information is at risk. It is bad public policy to privatize collection & safekeeping of law enforcement records.
Questions? Contact Information David Youngberg General Manager Western Metals Recycling (303) 478-8612 David.Youngberg@WMRecycling.com Danielle Waterfield Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) 1615 L Street, NW Suite 600 Washington, D.C. 20036 (202) 662-8516 – Ofc / (202) 714-3295 - Mobile DanielleWaterfield@ISRI.org