Scrap Metal Recyclers Support Stronger Metal Theft Law

A strengthened scrap metal bill, three years in the works, moved one step closer to law on Wednesday.

The goal of the bill is to provide law enforcement with better support to track and successfully prosecute metal thieves, who may steal metal property in one location, destructively turn it into scrap metal, and then attempt to sell it to metal recycling businesses in other locations.   A new and  important feature of the bill is creation of a new online database to track sales and purchases of certain types of items that are often, but by no means always, stolen.

“The reporting database is a very potent tool for law enforcement, already under way in other states.  In fact, a representative of the Michigan State Police actually referred me to one specific service available to law enforcement that could be helpful to the State of Michigan”, said Attorney Jonathan Raven of Fraser Trebilcock, on behalf of scrap processors.

The Senate Economic Development Committee agreed Wednesday to improve a pending bill by giving law enforcement a powerful new active online database, to be developed and funded by Michigan scrap metal recycling businesses, and developed in consultation with Michigan State Police.  Metal recycling businesses would be required – for the first time – to report to the database all purchases of those high-theft metals, and any law enforcement or metal recycler in Michigan could track activity and pattern.  Metal recyclers already assist law enforcement including photographing and fingerprinting all individual and non-commercial metal sellers, and obtaining signed affadivits of ownership.

“I think we have finally, if it is what it appears to be, an excellent statement of legislative policy that will help the scrap metal industry continue to assist law enforcement in battling metal theft wherever it occurs,” said Raven.

HB 4593HB 4595 and HB 4782 moved out of committee with recommendation for immediate effect.

You can read more about the bills and their progress on MIRS.

Jonathan Raven is a Shareholder Attorney and Chair of the  Health Care Law Department at Fraser Trebilcock. An expert business counselor, Mr. Raven has real-world executive experience managing complicated organizations.  He can be reached at or 517.377.0816.