Miami-Dade County wins battle to update scrap metal law
Miami-Dade County will have until July 1, 2013 to amend its scrap metal ordinance by incorporating changes to be made by the Scrap Metal Task Force created by Vice Chairwoman Audrey M. Edmonson to combat rampant and recent scrap metal and copper wire theft.
In addition, scrap metal recyclers will pay higher penalties if they buy stolen copper or other metals for cash and without proper documentation, according to the legislation passed by the State Legislature in March. The law preempts new local ordinances but grandfathers existing ordinances.
“I am very pleased that the State has recognized illegal scrap metal purchases and copper wire theft as a serious plague on our community and changed the law to reflect its concern,” said Vice Chairwoman Edmonson. “Every time a light pole goes dark because someone has ripped out the copper wire a citizen is put in danger because our streets become dark and dangerous.
“I am looking forward to attacking this problem with the Task Force, relying on the expertise of not only municipalities and law enforcement but of the honest scrap metal dealers,” Vice Chairwoman Edmonson added. “Our intent is not to cripple legitimate businesses---we just want to make it economically painful for those who unscrupulously buy and sell stolen goods.”
On October 4, 2011, the Miami-Dade County Commission passed an ordinance creating a task force to combat the rise of scrap metal and copper wire theft in the community. The legislation, sponsored by Vice Chairwoman Edmonson, stipulates that the new task force will formulate recommendations to the Board on the enforcement of ordinances regulating junk dealers and scrap metal processors.
The task force will be comprised of 21 members appointed by the Miami-Dade Commission, various municipalities and Miami-Dade department heads, the League of Cities, the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, Florida Power & Light, and residents.
In April, 2011 Vice Chairwoman Edmonson sponsored legislation which strengthened local regulations on scrap metal processors and junk dealers. The ordinance combines state statutes and existing County code provisions, while strengthening provisions regarding the sale of “restricted regulated items.”
Skyrocketing prices for metals, especially copper, have resulted in a significant increase in the theft of copper, aluminum, and other ferrous and nonferrous metal material in Miami-Dade County. Such thefts include metal materials from light poles, which create power outages and endanger the health, safety and welfare of the public particularly the elderly and children.
According to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), 30 lights along I-95 between NW 30th and 79th Streets have been targeted in the past year alone. This has become economically burdensome to Miami-Dade since the County is required to expend funds to replace or repair the stolen or vandalized street lights it owns. It costs approximately $1,000 to $1,500 to fix each damaged pole.