According to the Lexington Police Department, metal thefts account for more than $6 million dollars in damage in Fayette County since late 2010. Now two measures are currently making their way through local and state government that would tighten restrictions on buyers and sellers. A bill requiring registration for commercial recyclers who purchase scrap metal passed the House in Frankfort last week.
The bill would require a traceable method of payment for certain regulated metal products and new registration procedures for dealers. But a similar measure introduced by Urban County Councilman Kevin Stinnett goes further, creating a database with seller information.
"With the state ordinance, we don't know who the sellers are and we never will, but under this ordinance we will know who's selling it and what they're selling," Stinnett says.
Stinnett’s ordinance would also require dealers to obtain $500 licenses from the Division of Police, file daily reports, and hold some items like catalytic converters on their property for three business days after purchase. Scrap metal theft is believed to be a key driver of Kentucky’s drug trade, as users look for ways to make quick cash. But some in the scrap metal industry, such as Justin Erwin with Wise Recycling, worry the new regulations could have intended consequences.
"I just don't want Lexington to be more stringent on certain items and then that not reduce theft by just pushing outside the county line," Erwin says.
Stinnett’s ordinance passed committee and will make its way to the Urban County Council for review.