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Feb 11, 2013 8:32 PM by Erika Flores

State proposes stricter regulations to combat metal thefts

TUCSON- Metal theft is plaguing cities nationwide.

Last year, the city of Tucson started its Metal Theft Apprehension Plan documenting more than 850 cases crimes that caused more than $2,800,000 worth of damage.

This year state lawmakers are considering a bill that would tighten Arizona's scrap metal laws.

Pipes were stolen from The Academy of Tucson Middle School from 16 air conditioning units.

By disobeying the "no trespassing" sign and bolt cutting the lock to the back gate of the school, the thieves got through the school to rip copper form the units that sit high off the ground.

"They pulled the pipe off the units by using their feet pulling the pipe by breaking it back and forth," said Superintendent Bud Steward.

Stewart said it will cost more than $10,000 to repair the units and reseal the roof.

"So that we don't have leakage," said Stewart.

It's crucial for the students below trying to learn.

"They'll just go after this," said Dan Heirshberg with Desert Metals Recycling.

Heirshberg said air conditioning units are a hot commodity for metal thieves.

"Copper runs around $2.90 to 3 dollars a pound right now," said Heirshberg.

The thieves looking not only for the obvious copper hanging on the units but also for the condensers found inside.

Desert metals recycling documents everyone who comes in to sell metal with video, pictures, ID checks as an extra precaution.

"The license plate and the type of vehicle...the product is noted. The camera is on. It's taking pictures," said Heirshberg.

There are cameras everywhere to help identify potential thieves here to sell their metal or those here to steal.

"We're also victims of copper theft and metal theft," said Heirshberg. Just in three weeks, they've been hit 10 times.

"These thieves know that prices are high right now," said Heirshberg.

They're cashing out with no regards to the damage left behind.

"Property crime costs all of us," said Stewart.

House Bill 2262 would include stricter guidelines for scrap metal dealers and law enforcement.

It would require that dealers register with DPS and keep detailed records of their sales.

Law enforcement would have to register with a theft notification website that would send off stolen item information to recycling operations and other police departments.

This is a link to the bill:

http://www.azleg.gov/DocumentsForBill.asp?Bill_Number=HB2262&Session_ID=110

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