[Tuesday], Assemblyman Brian Nestande (R-Palm Desert), announced legislation he will introduce in the State Legislature to provide additional resources and funding for law enforcement efforts to combat metal theft. The legislation was formed during a series of stakeholder meetings Nestande held with law enforcement and metal recycling companies.
“Every day seems to bring a new story of another victim of metal theft,” said Nestande. “Our public safety officers are doing the best they can, but without more funding and resources they cannot truly address the problem. I believe this legislation will provide a long-term solution to stop thieves from reducing our communities to scrap metal.”
The legislation will generate funding for law enforcement by assessing a small fee on payments made for scrap metal paid to sellers by metal recycling centers. The proceeds of these will go to a new state-wide Metal Theft Taskforce overseen by the California Department of Justice which will distribute the funds as grants to law enforcement agencies and prosecutors around the state. These funds will also be available to regional law enforcement partnerships. Currently, most local law enforcement agencies do not have the resources or expertise to concentrate on metal theft crimes.
The legislation will also enhance a regional database which will provide alerts to all scrap metal recyclers within 100 miles when a metal theft is reported. Metal thieves often steal from one city and then travel to another area to reduce suspicionand sell the stolen items.
“I am pleased to support Assemblyman Nestande in his new pending metal theft legislation which will be designed to address the rising problem of metal theft that has devastated both the public and private sectors of our communities,” said Richard Twiss, Indio Chief of Police.
A growing number of thefts of Coachella Valley Water District property, at local schools and on farms are just a few examples of the need to increase efforts to stop metal thieves.
“We welcome any legislation that will help curb metal theft from farmers and ranchers,” added Steven Pastor, Executive Director of the Riverside County Farm Bureau. “Metal theft is out of control and has been a tremendous financial burden on the agriculture community.”