SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Cheryl R. Brown (D-San Bernardino) introduced AB 801 to help prevent the continued problem of copper theft in California. The bill would require junk dealers to ascertain proof of ownership from a person who is selling copper or copper alloy with identifying insignias or emblems on it.
“Copper theft is problem throughout California, and is costing the state and municipalities millions of dollars to repair the damage,” said Assemblymember Brown. “Junk dealers need to be held responsible for knowingly purchasing stolen copper.”
Under current law, stealing more than $950 of copper is categorized as grand theft and punishable by fines up to $10,000 and three years in jail. A junk dealer who knowingly buys copper can be fined up to $1,000.
As the price of copper has increased, so has the cost to repair the damage caused by metal thieves. Copper has more than doubled in value in the last five years, going from $1.50 per pound to $3.70 per pound. As a result, copper theft has become a costly burden to the state. In the Inland Empire, copper theft caused over 25,000 residents to experience a blackout in 2011. In San Francisco, 59 traffic meters were replaced at a cost of $35,000 per meter due to copper theft and Fresno County has over one million dollars in metal theft annually.
AB 801 would allow the state to effectively track stolen copper and copper alloys. “Copper theft has had negative consequences everywhere in California, especially in the Inland Empire and we need to do everything we can to address this problem,” said Assemblymember Brown.
The bill was introduced and has been moved to the Assembly Rules Committee for assignment to the appropriate policy committee.
Assemblymember Cheryl R. Brown represents the 47th Assembly District, which includes Colton, Fontana, Grand Terrace, Rialto, San Bernardino, and the unincorporated communities of Bloomington and Muscoy.
Website of Assemblymember Cheryl R. Brown: http://www.asmdc.org/members/a47/.