A bill (H. 3660) that would hopefully stop the scourge of copper and metal theft in the state received final approval in the Senate last week and was signed by the Governor on Thursday. Thieves and drug addicts in search of quick cash have been causing millions of dollars worth of damage ripping out copper from plumbing and air-conditioning units at homes and businesses.

The bill sets up a permit system for people who want to sell copper to recyclers. Individuals selling less than 10 pounds of the metal would be allowed to obtain a free, 48-hour permit up to twice a year by calling their local sheriff’s office. Those wanting to sell more than 10 pounds of copper in excess of twice in a year would be required to apply in person at a sheriff’s office for a free, long-term permit. The bill covers copper products, catalytic converters and stainless steel beer kegs to the list of permit-required items.

The bill would also require the metal recyclers to apply for a purchasing permit at their local sheriff’s office at a cost of up to $200. Also, instead of giving out cash, recyclers would only be allowed to pay customers with checks for their copper and metal purchases.