Waterville police chief proposes law to stem tide of copper thefts

Posted Nov. 09, 2011, at 9:38 a.m.
Last modified Jan. 27, 2012, at 2:08 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Waterville’s police chief is proposing new legislation intended to crack down on the theft of copper and other metals for sale as scrap.

Chief Joseph Massey said his officers are often stymied in their investigations because scrap metal processors don’t maintain detailed records of their purchases and process materials quickly.

The Kennebec Journal reported that his proposal announced Tuesday would impose new regulations on scrap metal processors and higher penalties on those that break the law.

Waterville Democratic state Rep. Tom Longstaff helped develop and introduced the legislation.

Central Maine Power Co. backs the effort. CMP said there have been 43 copper thefts from their facilities already this year, compared to 29 last year.

Massey said the poor economy, high metal prices and prescription drug abuse are driving the thefts.