published Friday, July 6th, 2012

Rules on scrap metal sales tightened

LAW CHANGES

Some of the changes that took effect July 1 in Georgia:

Scrap metal dealers must pay with a check, not cash.

Dealers must photograph scrap sellers and each piece of metal they sell.

There are new restrictions on the purchase of metal cemetery monuments, air conditioning coils, aluminum, copper and burnt copper wires.

With more than 40 years' experience in the metal recycling business, Mike Muglach has run into scammers.

Like the man who had a newer-model car hauled in to All South Metals in Dalton, Ga., which Muglach owns. The man bummed $40 from Muglach to pay the tow truck driver and swore he'd come back with the car's title.

Muglach got suspicious when the man didn't show, so he called a Whitfield County sheriff's detective he knows. The detective called back the next day and said, "That car just got reported as stolen."

"I got stiffed out of the $40," Muglach said. "We've helped people get stuff back, even to our detriment."

So he doesn't have a problem with new metal recycling regulations that went into effect this week in Georgia aimed at stemming metal theft.

"I think most scrap dealers are legitimately trying to help," Muglach said.

The new regulations call for a litany of changes, but the two biggest ones, Muglach said, are the requirements to pay scrap sellers by check, not cash, and to take clear photographs of people who drop off scrap, as well as each piece of scrap metal.

Other states are tightening up regulations, too, Muglach said.

"Tennessee's pretty much identical," he said. And Alabama is phasing in tougher rules in August and again in the winter.

The Dalton Whitfield Solid Waste Authority doesn't pay for metal, but people sometimes will drop off things such as broken appliances that the waste authority then sells to scrap metal dealers.

Norman Barashick, the waste authority's executive director, said scrap metal thieves have stolen batteries from the authority's vehicles, as well as metal parts from its storage areas.

He hopes the new regulations help eliminate such thefts.

"We're hoping that this makes a difference," Barashick said.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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