Palmetto State Seeing Decrease in Copper Thefts

Midland residents will not have to worry as much about copper thieves as the months get warmer.

Thanks to a state law that was signed last August by Governor Haley, thieves are having a much tougher time trying to make a quick buck off stolen wires from a/c units, homes and businesses.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said the results were instant.

"You do not see that much of an impact when a law goes into effect. It takes a while. But overnight, it had a drastic impact."

The law requires sellers and recyclers to get a permit from their local sheriff's department to legal buy or sell copper. Sellers also need a permit to transport copper. And Lott said that is a risk many choose not to take.

"You are not going to see many criminals come to the sheriff's department and give us their drivers license with all of their identifiers on it and the tag from their vehicle."

Before the law went into effect, Lott said his deputies responded to an average of five copper thefts a day. Since the measure was signed into law, the number has dropped to five a week.

Lott also credits recyclers, who were tired of buying and selling stolen metal.

"I think a lot of people wanted to blame them for this. It was not their fault. They were the ones who said 'Look, we want to work with you and help develop this law. So it can be effective. We want to be legitimate business people. We do not want to buy stolen goods.'"

The law also prohibits recyclers from giving cash for copper. Richland County is not the only one benefiting. Much of the state is; including Spartanburg County. They have seen a 15% drop in copper thefts.