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Scrap metal thefts draw Schumer's scrutiny

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) speaks with

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) speaks with the media at a news conference on May 9, 2011 at Penn Station in New York City. Photo Credit: Getty Images

"We pay cash money on the spot. No questions asked!"

Appeals like that one from the website of plus the high prices of copper, aluminum and other materials are making the theft of metal from homes, businesses and public facilities increasingly tempting, officials say.

Particularly hard-hit are impoverished areas in Westchester and other parts of the Hudson Valley.

"We're a poor city," said Stephanie Roper, a dispatcher for the city of Newburgh Police Department. "I don't know how there's any copper piping left."

In response, Sen. Charles Schumer Monday came to Rye to propose new legislation designed to curb the illicit sale of stolen scrap metal.

Schumer outlined proposals that would require metal sellers to: provide proof of ownership, limit recyclers' payments for scrap metal to $100, and make it a federal offense to steal metal from critical infrastructure.

"It is time to put thieves who steal scrap metal from Westchester County homes, businesses, parks and infrastructure behind ironclad bars," Schumer said in a statement.

Among the cases cited by Schumer were the theft of: four manhole covers in Yonkers last summer; copper worth $3,000 from a Bronxville home; steel oil drums from Rye Playland, and assorted fixtures from New York Medical College that were sold for $37,000.

In recent cases, two Queens men were charged on Oct. 4 with trying to loot steel pipes valued at $5,000 from a storage yard on the Saw Mill River Parkway in Yonkers, Westchester County police said.

And on Monday, state police announced they'd charged three men and a teenager from Spring Valley in connection with an attempted theft of copper piping at the Homowack resort in Phillipsport in Sullivan County.

The legislation proposed by Schumer would follow in the footsteps of other states that have moved to curb the theft of scrap metal. On Oct. 1, new legislation went into effect in Virginia, requiring scrap dealers to get a permit and mandating that dealers record the seller's identification and the license plates, model and color of any vehicle delivering scrap.

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