Buying or selling copper? Get a permit

  • Thursday, August 11, 2011

GEORGETOWN SC — Buddy Rogers — owner of R&R Metal Co. — has been a metal recycler in Georgetown County for more than four decades and has seen things change in the business through the years.
Rogers says he tries to be careful not to purchase any metals from anyone who he thinks may have stolen the items, but these days it’s hard to tell what items brought to his West Front Street business are from honest citizens and what is being brought by crooks.
That’s why he welcomes a new law that is supposed to take a bite out of the escalating number of copper thefts across the state.
In June, Gov. Nikki Haley signed what is known as the Copper Theft Bill into law. It makes changes to current law regarding the sale and purchase of certain nonferrous metals, most particularly, copper.
The law — which takes effect next Wednesday — requires anyone who wants to sell such metals — including copper and catalytic converters —  to a scrap metal dealer must first obtain a free permit from the local sheriff’s office.
For the periodic metal seller, a 48-hour permit will be available by calling the office of the sheriff rather than having to make a trip to that office.
They will be given a permit number which must  good for transporting and sale of non ferrous metals including copper and catalytic converters for 48 hours.  This permit is for those persons who intend to transport and sell these materials no more than twice a year. 
For the more frequent seller, there is a one year permit which can only be obtained by visiting the Sheriff’s Office to complete a form.
Additionally, any person or business purchasing copper or catalytic converters must obtain a permit, also from  the sheriff's office.  There is a $200 fee for the "permit to purchase" and is renewable every 2 years. 
The law also requires the metal purchaser to do business from a fixed location. 
This new law does not apply to a holder of a retail business license, an authorized wholesaler, contractor licensed pursuant to law or a gas, electric, communications, water, plumbing, electrical or climate conditioning service provider.
Dealers will no longer be allowed to pay for copper purchases in cash. Checks must be written to the seller for any copper transactions.

OK with the law

Buddy Rogers, who has owned . in Georgetown for more than four decades, says he supports the law because “something has got to be done” about the theft of metals to be sold.
Rogers said it has been almost impossible to differentiate between metals being sold by honest people and by those who have stolen the items being sold.
He said using law enforcement and the new permitting process should be a deterrent to people stealing copper and other metals.
Rogers said he is also adding safeguards of his own to try to help fight the problem.
“We are putting in a new system that tracks them. We will have cameras above the cash register,” he said.
Rogers said because of the state of the economy, thieves have targeted copped because it is easily accessible and is more valuable than most other metals.
Churches, especially those in rural areas, have been hit hard nationwide by crooks stealing the air conditioning units and selling them to recyclers.
Rogers said he does not mind paying the $200 annual permit fee because it will be used to fund the extra work the process will place on law enforcement agencies.
Anyone who has questions about obtaining a permit can contact Lt. Alan Jackson of the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office at 436-6057 or ajackson@gtcounty.org.

By Scott Harper

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