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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (NEWS RELEASE) — As of October 1 the State Legislature has enacted the Metal Theft Prevention Act, which aims to aid in the prosecution of thieves involved in the theft of nonferrous metals and ultimately help diminish or prevent this crime.

Nonferrous metals are those which do not include a significant amount of iron or steel and consist of but are not limited to any type of copper or copper wiring, aluminum, and mixtures of copper and aluminum. Some of these items are catalytic converters not attached to a vehicle, air conditioner coils and parts, and lead acid batteries.

A part of this new law requires any secondary metals recycling facility or site (any business that purchases these types of items for the purpose of recycling or reselling) to have a Secondary Metals Recycler Permit issued by the Sheriff’s Office of the county they are operating in and in the requirements of obtaining this permit the business must comply with all North Carolina regulations of record keeping for purchasing these metal items, making them open to inspection by law enforcement.

The metal recycling businesses must maintain copies of all the information for the seller of the nonferrous metal including the name, address, driver’s license or government issued identification number, vehicle information including the license plate of the vehicle used to transport the metal items, and in some cases a fingerprint impression of the seller’s index finger. The new law also stipulates that metal recyclers cannot purchase any air conditioner coils from private citizens not affiliated with commercial, industrial, or licensed HVAC entities.

This law also makes it a separate criminal offense to cut or dismantle an air conditioning unit to remove the inner coils in the process of the theft, and due to the damage it causes it will most often be classified as a felony.

This law was enacted to combat the rising trend of air conditioner and copper theft and metal thieves should be warned that if they continue to commit these acts, law enforcement will have all the necessary information to prosecute them for their crimes, including video surveillance footage in most cases.

Any business within New Hanover County, including inside the city limits of Wilmington, that operates as a secondary metals recycler or purchases nonferrous metals should contact the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office Civil Division at (910)798-4516 to apply for a Secondary Metals Recycler Permit (Nonferrous Metals Purchaser Permit) and can expect an on-site visit from a law enforcement official to assure compliance with the record keeping portion of the new law.

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4 Comments on "New state law helps prosecute metal thieves"

2015 years 10 months ago

This is absolutely absurd. So this bill says, that average private citizens can NO LONGER recycle other than steel? What is a homeowner to do with his aluminum gutters if he decides to replace them himself? Or what about copper pipe if a home owner decides to redo his bathroom? Instead of being a responsible citizen, the homeowner is now forced to throw it in the trash? This is the stupidest bill I have ever heard in my life. This will COST the country money, by consumers not being able to send copper and aluminum back for reclaimation to be used again. I have a profession in electronics, and customers give me old and dead electronics. I take the copper out of them and recycle them. But since im not a company or organization, I now can’t recycle. Im doing it the honest way, and I’m the one getting punished. What a horrible way to go about this. The correct way to solve the problem of theives and vandals is to have more documentation from the person recycling. Get them into a national database.

Lee Parker
2015 years 10 months ago

As i read the law it does not say you can’t sell your scrap metals only that the buyers can not purchase Air Condition coils unless you are in someway involved in a licensed A/C business. I sell scrap metals also. Most of the time it is steel or aluminum but I also save copper and brass.

2015 years 10 months ago

I know a guy who stole cooper wire from the airport and took it to a place on 421, the airport thought mexican contractors did it but it was one of their own employees

BF Deal
2015 years 10 months ago

Look at the punishment handed to the three yahoos who broke into the county repeater site down on Hill Valley Walk. One received no time at all, one received probation, one received jail time that was heavily discounted for time already served. They did thousands in damage, but this state simply refuses to punish criminals.


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