New Laws Too Late For North Central Florida Charity
By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV 20 News.
Widespread copper thefts is a nationwide problem, and North Central Florida is no different. But for the North Central Florida chapter of the American Red Cross, new laws governing the sale of scrap copper come a day too late.
The air-conditioning is out, and not because the charity is trying to save a couple bucks--a thief stole about 10 feet of copper wiring from the A/C unit outside.
"It's been pretty hot, but we're putting up some box fans," says Executive Director Laura Mager. "We're the Red Cross, we're going to persevere through it and we've been in worse situations."
Mager thinks the thief stole the wiring Monday night, the same night as a car owned by one of the volunteers was broken into sitting in the parking lot.
The landlord will be picking up the tab to fix the A/C unit at an estimated cost of nearly 1000-dollars. But similar to home-builders that have to pass the cost of replacing copper wiring onto the new home-buyers, Mager says the costs will eventually be passed along to the Red Cross.
New state laws make it more difficult for copper thieves. Recycling companies are required to get detailed records of the seller, including name, address, fingerprints and a vehicle desciption. They also must make a description of the copper that includes the weight.
"Hopefully the new statutes will help us start to get a handle on this stuff," says Officer Summer Hallett. Hopefully it will "lead us to the people who are unlawfully taking the materials and pawning them."
What also could help law enforcement crack down on copper thieves is decreasing prices of copper. One Alachua County recycler is buying copper at $2.30 a pound---down 30-40 cents from highs earlier this year.
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