In 2012, two measures were passed in the California legislature that are helping lessen metal theft by imposing criminal and civil penalties on any scrap dealer who knowingly accepts specific kinds of metal without evidence that it’s not stolen.
Senate Bill (SB) 1387 imposes criminal penalties on anyone who buys manhole covers, backflow devices, or fire hydrants unless they can show written certification from the original agency or utility.
Any junk dealer or recycler who fails to comply with this provision will face a criminal fine of up to $3,000.
Another measure, SB 1045, makes the scrap buyer who fails to obtain the written certification civilly liable for damages associated with the theft, including repair and replacement costs.
In 2012, thieves tole 16 fire hydrants within the city of Redlands, California. Imagine the surprise and chaos that would greet arriving firefighters looking for one of these hydrants, and the damage to local property and possibly lives. It cost the city about $40,000 to replace the hydrants.
In Fontana, California business owners reported 21 backflow devices stolen during a single month. A missing backflow device can open the property owner to liability if their water supply contaminates the city supply.
A student on a bike in Hemet was injured in 2011 when he rode into an open manhole after its cover had been stolen. He fell 15 feet down the storm drain.