St. Louis County passes copper theft bill

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 | 10:25 a.m. CDT; updated 2:16 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 30, 2012

CLAYTON — A new law in St. Louis County addresses the frequent theft of copper, catalytic converters and air conditioner parts.

The St. Louis County Council unanimously passed the measure Tuesday that seeks to restrict the purchase sale of the frequently stolen materials. It is modeled after a similar bill enacted in 2011 in St. Louis City.

The limitation of the bill is that it applies only to unincorporated areas of St. Louis County. Tim Fitch, the county's chief of police, said he is hopeful municipalities will adjust their ordinances to match the county law.

Fitch said about one-third of county burglaries involve theft of scrap metal from foreclosed or vacant houses.

The new law requires any person selling scrap metal to present a valid identification, and dealers must keep a computer database of all transactions.

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