Scrap Metal Discussion

Detectives Kim Simma, Tom Geisler and Dave Hunter
Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department
Phone: 704-409-1183

Sgt. Terry Hake, Wake County Sheriff's Office
Phone: 919-856-6800

Chairman Brinson introduced Detectives Kim Simma, Tom Geisler, and Dave Hunter, from Charlotte Mecklenburg PD and Sgt. Terry Hake with Wake County Sheriff's Office. Kim stated that she appreciated the Board allowing her to come back and discuss her concerns regarding scrap metal within her county. Kim presented to the Board on Charlotte's Pawn Shop program for the Pawn Shop Transaction Report that CJIN presented to the Legislature.

Detective Simma stated that scrap metal is a very hot item, along with gold buying and other precious metal purchasing, due to the price of precious metals right now. Scrap cars has been a major problem due to the wording of the statue. Detective Simma requested that the Board help with possible legislative changes or other means in which to provide a better tracking method and prevention for selling scrap metal. There has been some improvement, but there needs to be more in order for law enforcement to have better ability to enforce and prevent criminals from selling items that are stolen to scrap metal dealers. Detective Simma stated that in her discussions with Crystal Cody the COPLINK system that will be operational in Charlotte Mecklenburg will not have the necessary capabilities to do what Detective Simma feels is necessary to gather information on scrap metal dealers for the purposes of prosecution. Chairman Brinson stated that since COPLINK and LInX are incident based systems, that Detective Simma would like to see a database that allowed for items that were to be converted to cash or scrap metal. Since Charlotte-Mecklenburg is so close to the SC state line, it is hard with the laws differing in each state to determine which suspected persons are going across county and state line to dispose of stolen property. This type of database would help to determine that information.

Dave Hunter, the Automotive Detective from Charlotte-Mecklenburg PD, stated to the Board that he had met with Representative Tim Moore about trends with auto theft. Taking cars in for scrap metal, since the law is that if the vehicle is 10 years old it does not require a title. This has allowed for criminals to go into residential neighborhoods and take vehicles out of driveways for scrap and there is no trace of them after they are crushed. In 2011, there were over 2,000 cars stolen in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, 1,291 of them were older than 10 years. The Detective would like to see more stringent laws that increase the years from 10 to 20 for no title.

Detective Tom Geisler of Charlotte-Mecklenburg PD, stated that the sell of A/C units or catalytic convertors is an issue, since the law requires you to be in business to sell, use, or otherwise have possession of those items, but people were going to the scrap yards with business cards that they made on their home computers in order to sell the items they had stolen. The law doesn't state how you prove you are a dealer, or authorized retailer, so if there were more stringent forms of accountability it would hopefully ensure less items stolen. Detective Geisler also stated that the seller of an item receives immediate cash for his deposit. The detective would like to see a holding period as with pawn dealers, prior to the release of funds, to determine if the item is stolen.

Sgt. Terry Hake with the Wake County Sheriff's Office stated that the largest problem for Wake is auto theft on the interstates. Sgt. Hake has been working with Johnston County, Raleigh PD and others to try and curtail this problem. The punishment isn't in Sgt. Hake's opinion strong enough to ensure that the person convicted does not do it again. Sgt. Hake also stated that there is an exception to the 10 year title rule, which is if the vehicle has been totaled, so criminals are stealing the cars, wrecking them with something like a front-end loader, and then they get around the 10 year title rule. Sgt. Hake would also like to see a way of helping church's whose A/C units have been stolen and scraped, to ensure that it doesn't happen again through statue.