A bill by Sen. Abel Maldonado to address the problem of scrap metal thefts is dead for the year.
The bill, which would require scrap metal and junk dealers to report all receipts or purchases including seller identification to local Sheriff's Departments within one working day, was held in committee on April 10, according to a release from the senator's office.
The bill, SB 477, will sit in the Senate Public Safety Committee until January 2008, Maldonado's office reported, because of concerns it could worsen jail overcrowding.
The bill included a misdemeanor provision that could, at a maximum sentence, give noncompliant dealers up to one year in jail. The chairwoman of the Public Safety Committee, Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, has said that she would hold all bills that add any bodies to prisons in committee until California's prison crisis is addressed, though a representative from her office said that Romero wants to keep the bill going until it can be heard next year.
In a statement, Maldonado said that scrap metal theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in California, with agricultural scrap metal thefts increasing 400 percent in 2005.
"I am disappointed this bill did not move forward," Maldonado said in a press release. "Scrap metal theft is a very serious problem in my district and in other rural parts of California, and it is critical that we act to stop this very costly crime."
In San Luis Obispo, a local steel business is feeling the pressure of scrap metal scavengers.
"There's probably two or three companies locally that are always fighting about who gets whose scraps," said Ian Yungman, a steel fabricator for the San Luis Obispo-based Yungman Construction Company. "In the last three years, the price of steel has close to doubled. So obviously it's going to increase the value of scrap."
According to steelonthenet.com, the price of scrap steel has risen from $150 per gross ton in 2004 to $280 per gross ton in 2007.
"I've seen the aftermath because of the price increase," Yungman said. "One scrapper takes from another scrapper and it becomes scrap wars."