Legislation intended to fight metal theft, penned by Assemblymember Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto), passed out of committee Tuesday morning.
Olsen and co-author Brian Nestande (R-Palm Desert) say the two bills will help local communities.
AB 2313 would create a statewide Metal Theft Task Force. The taskforce would be responsible for distributing funding to law enforcement and prosecutors, which would then be dedicated to combating metal theft.
A companion bill, AB 2312, would require scrap metal recycling centers to take part in a regional metal theft alert system. The system would inform recyclers of all metal thefts within 100 miles, hopefully reducing the sale of stolen good.
“Rural areas like ours in the San Joaquin Valley are some of the most vulnerable targets for metal theft,” Olsen said. “Farmers and ranchers are already under the threat of drought and poor economic conditions – we must provide all the tools we can to make metal theft less attractive to criminals.”
The bills have received support from both statewide law enforcement organizations and local officials alike.
“Economic challenges as well as high rates of drug addiction in our county have made it incredibly difficult to combat metal theft and other property crimes at the local level,” said Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson. “I am grateful to Assemblymembers Olsen and Nestande for finding a legislative solution that complements and enhances Stanislaus County’s drug rehabilitation efforts.”
Turlock experienced a notable metal theft in February, when unknown thieves stole the seats from aluminum bleachers at the Julien Elementary School baseball diamond. The seats were replaced by the Turlock Firefighters Local 2434 and Turlock Associated Police Officers, though wood was used instead of aluminum.
“Metal theft has wreaked havoc on businesses, schools, farmers, and government facilities – costing employers and taxpayers significant amounts of money,” Olsen said.