Thu
Dec 13 2007
10:15 am
By: WhitesCreek

Over at TennViews, Randy Neal is watching a Tennessee Bill that hopes to place obstacles to metal thieves by making Scrap dealers keep records.

This one hits very close to home since I have a neighbor in jail at the moment for stealing copper to support a drug habit. It only makes sense to make folks with a history of buying stolen property start keeping records of who brings them the stuff. Not only will this help catch criminals, it might even help keep them from becoming criminals in the first place.

This REALLY needs to happen!

I read the article at TennViews, read the link to the description of the legislation, then read the full text of the bill itself.

It is a very detailed bill, well crafted. I can only think of one way in which it needs to be tweaked, and that should be friendly to the authors of the bill. I hope this happens with the very next meeting of the legislature.

RB

I"ve been thinking about this some more...

I know that's dangerous. In reading all the links and the legislation itself, I've been trying to take some advice I respect about being thoughtful when I reply to things on here. But it did get me to thinking...

One of the news items I've read and seen discussed a little bit is the thieving of some copper and some vandalism at the county's E911 repeater site. I've talked to some other folks, and they tell me that this has happened to lots of similar sites of communications infrastructure where the affected equipment is equipment that is used solely for emergency services communication - either as primary communications capability or as backup communications capability.

In some of these cases the thieves/vandals have taken copper from wires or connections that have provided power to the vital, life-saving communications equipment. In other cases, they have torn down the large-diameter (but low copper-content) lines that connect the radio equipment to the actual antennas on the tower. Those cables have, as I understand it, vital function (without them the communications won't happen) but actually very low copper content (due to small-diameter conductors). In other cases where these folks haven't been able to obtain the amount of copper they thought they should be able to get from stealing at these sites, they have resorted to serious vandalism, smashing and breaking things. In one other case an emergency communications site had a new tower on the ground, inside a chain-link fence, waiting to be installed (a taller tower for better coverage) and thieves got into the chain-link fence and stole the tower (it was in sections)! The folks that have told me this are people that are directly connected with several of these sites - be they sites for main day-to-day communications (like the E911 equipment) or sites for backup or auxiliary communications (like amateur radio repeaters used in emergency communications).

Given than information, I would hope they could spiff up and strengthen the statute so that if they steal copper or other metals from any site that is or can be used for emergency communications, the violation would escalate to a felony.

But the folks who have written the first draft of the statute have done us a good service by getting the ball rolling, and I appreciate that.

RB

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