New law cracks down on scrap metal thieves

February 1, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

If you deal with a scrap yard, you might want to check their wall for a new certificate now required by the state of Ohio.

A bill signed into law by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, aims to crack down on scrap metal theft. The new law requires scrap metal dealers to photograph of every person selling scrap metal, and keep the photo as part of the sales record.

“The only part of the law that kicked over on January first was that, by the time you opened your doors, you were supposed to have registered with the state of Ohio, with the Ohio Department of Health and Safety, in conjunction with the Ohio Department of Homeland Security,” Mike Livingston of Livingston and Company Scrap Yard in Portsmouth. “You had to make sure that you were registered. Right now every scrap yard in the state of Ohio is supposed to have a certificate hanging in their office that says they are registered as a legitimate scrap yard.”

Livingston said the state is trying to get every scrap yard into a statewide database, and to have those yards upload their receipts on a daily basis. Livingston said the cost per scrap yard to register was $200 the first year and $100 or $150 per year afterward.

“When that database is up, they will know who is uploading tickets and who is not,” Livingston said. “And I think that’s one of the big things they are going to be looking for.”

Livingston said for every transaction, the operators must upload a copy of the customer’s drivers license, a still photo of the person at the time of the transaction, along with a list of weights and materials the yard purchased from that individual. He said the state is expected to have the system up and running by Jan. 1, 2014, and may have it in operation sooner.

“If you are a registered scrap yard, and they see that you are uploading tickets on a daily basis, when they open up that database, you’re in good shape,” Livingston said. “If they see that you’re a registered scrap yard, and you’re not uploading tickets, they’re going to know, and they’re going to come and ask you why. And, if they catch you operating a scrap yard without one of those licenses, then you’re in big trouble. There are penalties and fines for that.”

A growing problem since the housing bust, thieves have targeted vacant homes in our area for wiring and other items, and have attempted to sell the stolen items to scrap yards. The law dealing with scrap yards and the potential purchase of stolen items, kicked in in September of 2009.

“We had started our computer system in 2007,” Livingston said. “So we were way ahead of it here. So whenever they stiffened up the laws here in this past year, it was - no more burnt copper, and you had to have the still picture, and the copy of the driver’s license. And you had to keep those records for up to 60 days, and have them available for any kind of law enforcement to come and check them out.”

Livingston said a man recently brought in an aluminum porch post which was stolen. He said he contacted the police, and the owner of the post to come and identify it.

“When it was done and over with, I printed them a nice little piece of paper, with a copy of the gentleman’s driver’s license, a live picture of him standing right there in the office where he was getting his money, and all the pertinent information,” Livingston said. “The person from the Portsmouth Police Department said that was all he needed.”

While Livingston’s was out the $8 they paid for the post, it was returned to the rightful owner, and the authorities knew who to charge with the crime. He said the database, when it is up and running, will also issue a statewide “do not buy” list naming anybody who has been convicted of felony theft and receiving stolen property.

frank lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at