TRENTON – Sen. Donald Norcross, (D-5), Camden has seen the problem of metal theft rise in this rough economy and believes a statewide solution is needed.
Camden wanted to enact a local ordinance to address the problem, but Norcross said that would merely push offenders across borders into other towns or across the Delaware River into Philadelphia.
That is why he introduced a bill this week – the Assembly has its own version – that would impose new restrictions and requirements on scrap metal dealers so that purchases of scrap could be documented and traced.
He’s seen many reports of recent thefts: three-quarters of a million dollars worth of metal from heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units in more than a third of Camden schools; $25,000 to $30,000 of Verizon cable in Audubon; wires from street light pipes along Route 676.
The cost to replace such metal is often six to eight times the value of what was stolen, he said, and the problem is expanding from its urban roots to more suburban territory.
“This problem is not going to go away until metal drops in value,’’ Norcross said, “and that is not going to happen any time soon.”
“It has gotten completely out of hand,’’ he said.
Asked whether he felt scrap metal businesses would oppose the proposed legislation, he said dealers’ biggest concern is that the problem not be dealt with in piecemeal fashion; they would prefer a statewide solution to a myriad of local ordinances and laws.
Legitimate dealers, Norcross said, will not have problems with the bill.