Chuck Schumer pushes legislation to prevent metal theft, days after copper theft stunted commute

Sen. Charles Schumer pushed new legislation Sunday that would help crack down on the theft of scrap metal.

The effort comes nearly a week after more than 500 feet of copper was stolen from train tracks in Queens, stunting the morning commute for thousands.

Schumer said the new legislation would prevent the metal from being sold illegally by requiring documentation proving someone was authorized to sell it, requiring recyclers to keep detailed records, and restricting anyone from giving out more than $100 cash for the metal.

“It is time to put thieves who steal scrap metal from critical mass transit infrastructure, as well as homes and businesses, behind ironclad bars,” Schumer said in a statement.

“Every ounce of copper or metal stolen from New York’s critical infrastructure could cause the next big commuter delay, a subway line suspension or even a disaster. That’s why this plan must be enacted-because it takes the cold-hard-cash incentive out of the metal theft equation and would deter metal thieves before they steal.”

Schumer, who co-sponsors the legislation and called the plan “practical,” said it would also create a specific federal crime for stealing metal from critical infrastructure. He said there have been an increasing amount of metal-related thefts over the past few years, especially surrounding rail lines.

The copper cables were stolen from at least 12 different places along the A and C train track near Howard Beach late last Tuesday night. Signal equipment and track were damaged as well. The problem was first discovered when a northbound A train lost power at about 11:20 p.m., forcing about 150 customers on board to climb through the cars to get back to the station, the MTA said.

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