For Immediate Release: February 22, 2007
Senator Cliff Branan
Committee Approves Measure to Reduce Copper Theft
A bill designed to address the growing incidences
of copper theft in Oklahoma has cleared its first legislative
hurdle. Senate Bill 472, by Senator Cliff
Branan, was approved by the Senate Energy and Environment
Committee on Thursday.
“This crime can actually put people’s lives at risk,
especially the elderly, because it can leave them without air
conditioning and power at the worst possible times—when
the temperatures are in the triple digits,” Branan said.
Last summer, communities across the state saw a dramatic increase
in copper theft, which was the result of the price of used copper
increasing from about $1.50 a pound to more than $4 a pound.
During the hottest days of the season, many residences and businesses
were left without air conditioning after the copper was stolen
from their cooling units. When thieves target the copper at
electrical substations, entire power grids can be knocked out.
“Obviously, stealing is already a crime in Oklahoma. This
bill helps us create a better paper trail to help catch those
thieves,” Branan said. “We want to make sure junk
dealers are keeping more thorough records on who is selling
them used copper, and crack down on those dealers who don’t
follow the law.”
Junk dealers would be required to keep detailed descriptions
of the purchase of any “recycled” copper. In addition
to a photo ID of the seller, they’d have to maintain a
current registry that would include the date of purchase.
Dealers would also have to include a detailed
description of the material or property, along with a statement
from the seller of what the property is, how it was originally
used and other information. In addition, the measure would increase
the holding period for specific amounts of copper from ten to
The bill also increases the fines for junk dealers who don’t
follow state law on copper sales. A first offense would increase
from $50 to $500, and a second offense would carry a fine of
$2,500. A subsequent offense would carry a fine of $2,500 plus
the forfeiture of the junk dealer’s license.
“I’ve been told that last year alone, about half
of the commercial claims filed with insurance companies in Oklahoma
City were related to damage from copper theft,” Branan
said. “Someone stealing $40 worth of copper can cause
tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. If
we can reduce copper theft, conceivably we could help keep down
insurance costs as well.”
SB 472 now moves to the full Senate for further consideration.
For more information contact:
Senator Branan's Office - (405) 521-5543