Opinion Columns & Blogs

Prosecutors have new tool to fight metal theft

Credit Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett with winning a battle in the war against scrap metal thefts. Last week Gov. Sam Brownback signed House Bill 2048, a law Bennett sought that will require the Attorney General’s Office to maintain a database of scrap metal sales and also bring uniformity to charges and penalties statewide. The move will help law enforcement to track buying and selling and to identify criminal activity relating to what has become both an urban and rural problem. In Senate testimony early this year, Bennett said that churches’ and social service organizations’ air-conditioning units had been ruined for $50 worth of copper, that farmers had been forced to replace $10,000 irrigation units targeted for $300 worth of copper, that copper urns from headstones had been stolen from cemeteries, and that a Sedgwick County scrap yard had suffered two $100,000 copper thefts in two years. The new law should be important in countering a crime costing Kansas businesses, farmers and homeowners millions of dollars a year. – Rhonda Holman