Indiana law targets scrap metal thieves to protect homeowners, car owners

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Scrap metal thieves are being targeted by state lawmakers who claim too many Hoosiers have been victimized.

Thieves are specifically going after air conditioning units and catalytic converters to get aluminum and copper parts.

“We do our best not to buy items that are being stolen,” said Jerry Andrews, the Southern Indiana Division Manager for OmniSource, a large scrap recycler in Indiana.

Andrews said they have safeguards in place to keep thieves away from their facilities including required cameras that catch the transaction process on video. The new state law will require even more documentation from the public.

Sellers will need proof of ownership of a car to sell its catalytic converter and a receipt for an old or replacement AC unit if they want to sell its coils.

“We want to make sure they’re taking if from people who have rightful ownership of those items,” said Justin Moed, a state representative who represents several Indianapolis neighborhoods. He was one of the backers of the legislation.

Only business people who deal in scrap metal like auto parts salvagers will be exempt from the new law.

“I got this cage to put on it, and it has two master locks,” said Larry Peffer, a homeowner who lives in the Fletcher Place Neighborhood. He said he was a victim, so he made an additional investment to protect his replacement unit. “If you make it difficult for them, they’re not going to come by and bother you.”

“It’s amazing the investment we have to go through to keep our property protected,” said Glenn Blackwood with the Fletcher Place Neighborhood Association.

OmniSource is also trying to protect itself from thieves. Andrews said they haven’t been accepting some scrap metal like catalytic converters to avoid any legal troubles. The company supported the new law and hopes competitors will match its policies.

“With the amount of compliance my buyers have to do today, just adding that extra step as far as the converters go, we may just stay away from them as far as the general public,” said Andrews after Fox 59 asked if there would be a change in policy once the new law takes effect on July 1.

While the amount of metal components varies, a thief can make upwards of $50 on a typical AC unit and up to $90 through the sale of a catalytic converter.