Dealing With Stolen Recycled Metals
Stolen metals have been making the news for some time now. The Sacramento Bee reports on the frustration everybody is having in dealing with it. For some reason the stolen manhole covers catch my attention. I wonder if there might be a relatively easy solution to at least make it harder to market stolen manhole covers?
I hate to be the libertarian proposing new laws. I realize it's easier said than done and there would likely be unintended consequences to any new laws regarding the selling of scrap metal, but I think my manhole cover idea might actually help a little:
Just about any manhole cover in existence belongs to a government entity of some sort. Whether it be a city, county or municipal services district, who else would have reason to legally own a manhole cover? I can't think of anyone or any reason any of those entities would sell one of their manhole covers.
Have those government entities develop a sales certificate for manhole covers (and drainage grates and whatever). If they sell some metal object for scrap the form would be filled out, a seal stamped on it and it would be signed by department head in that entity- perhaps their public works director.
A manhole cover or drainage grate couldn't be sold to a recycling center without that form. Sure, it could be forged, but how many manhole covers and such are actually being brought in to recycling centers? It would be easy to just make a phone call to the government agency to confirm the few attempted sales.
You might even have to stop allowing cut metal to be sold without a certificate. I'm sure many of these manhole covers are cut up into smaller pieces to avoid identification.
I can't help but also wonder if it might be a good idea to require scrap metal sellers to keep a record of who and/ or where they acquired the metal they're trying to sell? That way dealers and police could follow up if something doesn't seem right.
Again, I realize this is easier said than done and I certainly don't want to make the lives of people like this any more difficult. But the certificate of sale by government agencies for manholes and such seems like it might make it enough of a hassle that thieves might leave the manhole covers alone.