LANSING (WWJ) – They’re calling for a crackdown.  A number of people are making their voices heard in Lansing about the unfettered theft of scrap metal around the state.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, was among those testifying before the State House Regulatory Reform Committee in support of House Bill 4593 , which would put more teeth into Michigan’s Nonferrous Metal Regulatory Act.

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“Stolen scrap like missing man-holes [covers], railroad weights, stop signs, guard rails, public lighting, phone lines, put our residents in grave danger,” said Tlaib. “Not only that, but the theft is tearing apart the communities with stolen church and cemetery ornaments.”

Tlaib said Michigan is ranked tenth highest in the nation for the number insurance claims resulting from scrap metal theft.

Also testifying Tuesday was Rep. Paul Muxlow, R-Brown City, who said, just days after being arrested, scrap metal thieves are back on the street stealing again in his district.

“We have people stealing farm machinery, copper plumbing from homes, air conditioners from schools and copper from our wind turbines in the area,” Muxlow said. “If there wasn’t a market for this stuff, it wouldn’t be happening — and that’s why we need to do something.”

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Kevin Spitznagel of Norfolk-Southern Railroad says scrap metal thefts from rail lines puts the public safety at risk.

“The … counter-weights that are on the crossing arms. If those crossing arms fail and stay in a horizontal or fail-safe position, the public becomes complacent about those and tend to go around. Now, if they’re not corrected in a timely manner, people — like I said — become complacent and can pull right in front of a train.

Spitznagel said rail thefts have cost Norfolk-Southern more than $100,000. The proposed changes would require photo and written documentation of purchases be kept on file by scrap dealers.


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