For Immediate Release: April 12, 2007
Senator Cliff Branan
Full Senate Approves Measure Intended
to Reduce Copper Theft
A measure intended to curb the growing problem
of copper theft in Oklahoma moved one step closer to becoming
law on Thursday. The full Senate voted in favor of House Bill
1399, which would require junk dealers to maintain detailed
records regarding the source of the copper they obtain for resale.
Senate author Cliff Branan explained that increases
in copper theft have had far-reaching implications for Oklahomans.
“This problem has grown to a point where
it puts numerous people at risk,” said Branan, R-Oklahoma
City. “Thieves have been stealing copper from car engines,
from air conditioning units and electrical substations. Copper
theft has even threatened to bring down power grids.”
Branan noted that copper theft has increased
exponentially in recent years due to its rising value.
“In the past several years, the value of
copper has increased dramatically,” Branan said. “Along
with that increase, it’s become easier to sell and easier
to market. This has resulted in a climate where theft is now
a problem, and we need to establish serious penalties to address
House Bill 1399, authored by Rep. Guy Liebmann,
R-Oklahoma City, would require junk dealers to keep a record
book with photo identification of the seller, as well as vehicle
descriptions and license plate numbers of the seller. Additionally,
junk dealers would be required to hold purchased copper for
a period of 10 days before re-selling it.
The measure also increases penalties for junk
dealers who violate the provisions. Fines for first offenses
would be increased from $50 to $500, and potential jail time
would be increased from 30 days to six months. Second violations
would be punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 or prison time
of up to two years.
The legislation establishes a “no buy list”
that prohibits junk dealers from purchasing items such as manhole
covers, funeral markers, copper coil from heating or air conditioning
units, streets signs and catalytic converters without obtaining
proof of ownership.
“Thieves have been going to incredible
lengths to get their hands on copper, and it’s had consequences
for many Oklahomans,” Branan said. “With these provisions
in place, hopefully fewer Oklahomans will have to worry about
copper being stolen from the funeral vase of a loved one, their
vehicle’s engine or their air conditioner. It’s
important that this bill be signed into law, giving law enforcement
another tool to crack down on this growing problem.”
The bill also prohibits junk dealers from paying
in cash for any transaction in excess of $25. Dealers would
have to pay by check, bank draft or other legal means for such
transactions. Branan noted this provision would allow authorities
to more easily track copper sales.
The measure will now advance to the House for
For more information contact:
Senator Branan's Office: (405) 521-5543