Earlier today, Governor Susana Martinez signed Senate Bill 67 and House Bill 118, which will help to curb the theft and illegal sale of secondhand metals. Common metals, particularly copper, are often subject to theft from homes, schools, construction sites, utility infrastructure, and commercial properties, and illegally sold to secondhand metal dealers.
In order to combat this problem, Governor Martinez asked a broad group of stakeholders, including law enforcement, utility companies, businesses, the Regulation and Licensing Department, and a bi-partisan group of legislators to come together to find a solution that would reduce metal theft and the often costly property damage that results. Representatives from all parties were present today as the Governor signed the resulting product, sponsored by Sen. Steven Neville (R-Aztec) and Rep. Debbie Rodella (D-Espanola), into law.
"Metal theft can result in property damage and cost businesses and families a significant amount
of money," said Governor Martinez. "This law will help to reduce theft and damage by making sure that any secondhand metal purchased by a dealer is purchased from its rightful owner -- not a thief. I'm proud we were able to bring groups with distinct and sometimes competing interests to the table to craft a bi-partisan solution that will help put an end to this problem in New Mexico and I'm grateful for the hard work of Sen. Neville, Rep. Rodella, and Rep. Gentry in guiding this bill through the legislative process."
Each month, about $1 million worth of metals are stolen in New Mexico. Currently, only about 7.5 percent of over 700 metal dealers comply with the state's request to voluntarily report transactions involving regulated materials. SB 67 and HB 118 will require all recycled metal dealers to register with RLD and report all transactions electronically into a database created and managed by the State. That database can be accessed by law enforcement agencies to monitor the purchase and sale of stolen materials. Many transactions would require documentation that the individual selling metal to a dealer is the rightful owner of the materials. Law enforcement would also be able to put a hold on suspected stolen or illegal property for up to five days or until the property is seized.
"This law is good for all parties and it's good for New Mexico," added Sen. Neville. "Metal theft can shut down schools and businesses and create a real hardship for families. By establishing regulations and rules that cut down on theft, we can significantly shrink the market for stolen metals and crack down on thieves. I'm grateful for Governor Martinez's leadership and her efforts to bring everyone to the table so we could reach a sensible, bi-partisan solution.