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Governor Blunt Urges legislators to Pass Metal Theft Bill

Governor Matt Blunt was in Springfield today to urge lawmakers to pass bills that address the rising incidents of metal thefts in the state. KSMU's Michele Skalicky has more.

The governor says there's been a disturbing trend in the theft of copper and other valuable metals in both rural and urban parts of Missouri. It's occurring as the price paid for those metals soars.

According to Blunt, the rise in the costs of the metals is fueled by rising demand from India and China. He says last fall, thefts of copper and other valuable metals started increasing. Blunt asked legislators and others to hold town hall meetings to discuss the problem and try to come up with solutions. And, the MO Information and Analysis Center developed a statewide database of metal theft to share with law enforcement.

Blunt says law enforcement personnel across the state are beginning to work together to catch metal thieves. But he says scrap metal dealers must be involved in the effort, too. Senate bills 1034 and 802 would require dealers to keep logs of most copper, brass, bronze or aluminum transactions over $50 and save those records for two years.

They also would allow only those authorized to sell items commonly targeted for metal theft, such as iron manhole covers and stainless-steel beer kegs and would require payments over $500 be made by check or another method that would leave a paper trail. The legislation also makes the crime of metal theft a class C felony.

Greene County Sheriff Jack Merritt says the county recently has had several cases of metal thefts.

Major Ron Replogle, who oversees the Criminal Investigation Bureau of the MO State Highway Patrol, says people who own any kind of property that might be a target of metal thieves need to keep their eyes and ears open and call law enforcement if they see any suspicious activity occurring.