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Back to Scrap Laws Alabama Metal Scrap Statute
Current as of May 20, 2014

The State Metals Theft Laws summaries are not intended to provide or be relied as a legal advice. This material is provided to serve as a reasonable compilation of the most current state scrap laws and is intended to be a resource or supplement to, and provide ideas for, compliance with all applicable laws. The ISRI State Scrap Laws are subject to change and readers should visit http://www.isri.org/metalstheftdb to make certain they are reading the most recent version of ISRI's summaries of the State Metals Theft Laws
Materials Covered and Other Definitions

"Metal Property" means Ferrous or Nonferrous Metals.

"Ferrous Metals" means any metals containing significant quantities of iron or steel, but excludes motor vehicles purchased in accordance with Section 32-8-87.

"Nonferrous Metals" means metals not containing significant quantities of iron or steel, including, without limitation, copper, brass, aluminum other than aluminum cans, bronze, lead, zinc, nickel, stainless steel, and alloys thereof, including stainless steel beer kegs.

Restricted Property, as used in this summary, refers to the property listed in Section 13A-8-37.1:

  • Catalytic convertors that are not part of an entire motor vehicle.
  • Metal property of a telephone, electric, cable, or water company, another utility, or a railroad marked or otherwise identified as such.
  • Copper wire that has been burned to remove the insulation.
  • A copper, aluminum, or aluminum-copper condensing or evaporating coil, including its tubing or rods, from a heating or air conditioning unit, excluding scrap from window air conditioning units and automobile condenser coils.
  • Utility access covers, manhole covers, or storm drain covers.
  • Grave markers, vases, memorials, statues, plaques, or other bronze objects used at a cemetery or other location where deceased persons are interred or memorialized, or any other metal historic markers or monuments, or the attached support or post to either.
  • Any metal property that has been brightly painted or marked to deter theft
  • Ventilation fans or similar fans designed to supply fresh air to workers in confined spaces such as underground mines or other similar circumstances.

"Secondary Metals Recycler" means any person, whether licensed or not licensed, who is engaged, from a fixed location or otherwise, in the business of paying compensation for Ferrous or Nonferrous Metals, whether or not engaged in the business of performing the manufacturing process by which such metals are converted into raw material products consisting of prepared grades and having an existing or potential economic value. The term does not include a pawnbroker licensed pursuant to Section 5-19A, or a licensed automotive dismantler and parts recycler as defined in Section 40-12-410, unless the entities engage in the business of paying compensation for Ferrous or Nonferrous Metals.

"Personal Identification Card" means a driver's license or identification card issued by the Department of Public Safety or a similar card issued by another state, a military identification card, a passport, or an appropriate work authorization issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security.

"Verifiable Documentation" means written evidence of ownership which may be verified, including, but not limited to, receipts, bills of sale, titles, certificates of title, purchase agreements, shipping manifests, work orders, etc.

ACJIC refers to the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center.

Exemptions

The metal theft law does not apply to purchases of metal from any of the following:

  • A law enforcement officer acting in an official capacity unless investigating a compliance issue pursuant to this article or presenting Metal Property for sale.
  • A trustee in bankruptcy, executor, administrator, or receiver who has presented proof of such status to the Recycler.
  • Any public official acting under a court order who has presented proof of such.
  • A sale on the execution of any process issued by a court if proof has been presented.
  • A manufacturing, industrial, or other commercial vendor that generates or sells regulated metal property in the ordinary course of its business.
  • A municipal, county, state, federal, or other governmental entity.
  • A utility company.
  • A funeral home or the owner or operator of a cemetery.
Registration

Recyclers must register with the ACJIC with the business's name, address, telephone number, and the name of the owner or owners, and pay a $250 annual registration fee.

Recordkeeping

Recyclers are required to collect the following information for any Ferrous or Nonferrous Metals purchase transaction (bolded information must be reported to the ACJIC):

  • Name and address of the Recycler;
  • Name or identification of the employee responsible for making the purchase;
  • Date and Time of the transaction;
  • The weight, quantity, or volume, and a general physical description of the type of metal property (wire, tubing, extrusions, casting, etc.);
  • Amount of consideration given;
  • Signed statement from the person receiving consideration stating that they are the rightful owner of the metal property or are authorized to sell the metal property;
  • Name and address of the person delivering the metal property;
  • Copy of the deliverer's Personal Identification Card, including the distinctive number from and type of ID card.
  • The vehicle license tag number and state of issue (or VIN if no tag is available), and type (automobile, pickup truck, van, truck) of the delivery vehicle.
  • Time and date stamped digital photo or video of the deliverer or of the person receiving consideration for the property delivered in which the person's facial features are clearly visible.
  • Time and Date stamped digital photo or video of the metal property as delivered or sold in which the type is identifiable.
  • For Restricted Property, a copy of verifiable documentation that the seller is the owner of the property (see Restricted Property provision)
Restricted Property - Documentation

For purchases of Restricted Property, as listed in Section 13A-8-37.1, the Seller must provide a copy of verifiable documentation that the seller is the owner of the property unless another option is listed:

• Catalytic convertors that are not part of an entire motor vehicle.

  • Metal property of a telephone, electric, cable, or water company, another utility, or a railroad marked or otherwise identified as such.
  • Copper wire that has been burned to remove the insulation, unless verifiable documentation is provided that the source of the copper wire was in a building destroyed by fire.
  • A copper, aluminum, or aluminum-copper condensing or evaporating coil, including its tubing or rods, from a heating or air conditioning unit, excluding scrap from window air conditioning units and automobile condenser coils, unless the seller: 

    Is a licensed contractor, HVAC contractor, plumber, or electrician and a current and valid license with number is provided and copied by the Recycler at the time of sale; or

    Has verifiable documentation, such as a receipt or work order, indicating that the condenser coils are the result of a replacement of an air conditioner unit or condenser coils performed by a licensed contractor.
  • Utility access covers, manhole covers, or storm drain covers, unless the seller is a company that deals in the manufacture or sale of the aforementioned products.
  • Grave markers, vases, memorials, statues, plaques, or other bronze objects used at a cemetery or other location where deceased persons are interred or memorialized, or any other metal historic markers or monuments, or the attached support or post to either, unless the seller is a company that deals in the manufacture or sale of such.
  • Any metal property that has been brightly painted or marked to deter theft.
  • Ventilation fans or similar fans designed to supply fresh air to workers in confined spaces such as underground mines or other similar circumstances.
Retention

A Recycler shall maintain transaction records for no less than 1 year from the date of the purchase transaction.

Inspection

During a Recycler's usual and customary business hours, a law enforcement officer, after properly identifying himself or herself as a law enforcement officer, has the right to inspect all purchased metal property and transaction records.

Reporting

Recyclers must transmit the following information electronically to the ACJIC database no later than 9 PM on the day of a purchase transaction.

  • Name and address of the Recycler;
  • Date and Time of the transaction;
  • The weight, quantity, or volume, and a general physical description of the type of metal property (wire, tubing, extrusions, casting, etc.);
  • Amount of consideration given;
  • Name and address of the person delivering the metal property;
  • The vehicle license tag number and state of issue (or VIN if no tag is available), and type (automobile, pickup truck, van, truck) of the delivery vehicle. 
Information Confidentiality

All information reported by Recyclers shall be considered to be confidential and privileged and exempt from disclosure. The ACJIC shall ensure adequate safeguards are incorporated and maintained so that the data may be accessed and used only by properly authorized law enforcement agencies for the purpose of investigating thefts of Metal Property

Payment Restrictions

No cash transactions in excess of $500 for any Metal Property. No cash transactions in excess of $50 for:

  • Copper;
  • Copper/aluminum air conditioning coils;
  • Catalytic converters;
  • Utility access covers, manhole covers, or storm drain covers, unless the seller is a company that deals in the manufacture or sale of the aforementioned products.
  • Grave markers, vases, memorials, statues, plaques, or other bronze objects used at a cemetery or other location where deceased persons are interred or memorialized, unless the seller is a company that deals in the manufacture or sale of the aforementioned products.

Payment for transactions exceeding the cash thresholds must be by check payable only to the person whose information was recorded. The check shall be payable to the name and address of the seller and mailed to the seller’s address or picked up in person by the seller.

No Purchase from Minors

No purchases of Metal Property from a person under 18 years old.

Hours of Operation

Metal Property may not be purchased between 9 PM and 6 AM

Hold By Request

15 calendar day hold upon a Recycler's receipt of a law enforcement officer's written notice, delivered to the Recycler, that specifically identifies items believed stolen and subject to the hold and informs the Recycler of the information in Section 13A-8-33 of the law. A law enforcement officer with reasonable suspicion to believe that any item of Metal Property in possession of a Recycler has been stolen may issue a notice. Before the original period expires, a law enforcement officer may issue a written extended hold notice, with the same information requirements as the original, extending the hold for 30 days from the Recycler's receipt of the second notice. The Recycler may not process or remove the items during the hold period unless the hold is released by a law enforcement officer. At the expiration of the hold or extended hold period, the Recycler may dispose of the Metal Property unless a court of competent jurisdiction has ordered another disposition

Possession or Control of Stolen Property

It is unlawful for a person to possess or control the following property, as listed in § 13A-8- 37, knowing or with reasonable grounds to believe it is stolen unless the property is possessed or controlled with intent to restore it to the owner (note: this list of property is similar, but not identical to, the list of Restricted Property):

  • Metal property marked with the initials of an electrical company, a telephone company, a cable company, another public utility, a railroad, or a brewer.
  • Any of the following, unless the seller is a company that deals in the manufacturer or sale of such:

    Utility access covers, manhole covers, or storm drain covers;

    Street light poles and fixtures;

    Road and bridge guard rails;

    Highway or street signs, traffic light signals, and traffic directional and control signs; o Water meter covers;

    Metal beer kegs including those made of stainless steel that are clearly marked as being the property of a beer manufacturer;

    Grave markers, vases, memorials, statues, plaques, or other bronze objects used at a cemetery or other location where deceased persons are interred or memorialized;
  • Metal property marked with the name of a government entity.
  • Unused and undamaged building construction or utility materials consisting of copper, pipe, tubing or wiring, aluminum wire, or historical markers.
  • A copper, aluminum, or aluminum-copper condensing or evaporating coil, including its tubing or rods, from a heating or air conditioning unit, excluding scrap from window air conditioning units and automobile condenser coils, unless the seller:

    Is a licensed contractor, HVAC contractor, plumber, or electrician and a current and valid license with number is provided and copied by the Recycler at the time of sale; or

    Has verifiable documentation, such as a receipt or work order, indicating that the condenser coils are the result of a replacement of an air conditioner unit or condenser coils performed by a licensed contractor.
Contesting Identification or Ownership of Metal Property

If a party claims ownership of Metal Property in a Recycler's possession and the Recycler contests it, the other party may bring action in the circuit court of the county in which the Recycler is located as long as they had made a timely report of the original theft to the proper authorities. The action must include a description of how the party identified the property. If the person who sold the property to the Recycler is convicted of theft or criminal mischief related to the removal of the property, the seller must make full restitution to the victim, including without limitation attorney fees court costs, property damage resulting from the theft, and other expenses.

If the lawful owner recovers stolen metal property from a Recycler who complied with the law and the seller is convicted of a violation of this article or of theft by receiving stolen property, the seller must also make full restitution including attorney's fees, court costs, and other expenses to the Recycler.

Liability Protection

A public or private owner of metal property is not civilly liable:

  • To a person who is injured during the theft or attempted theft of Metal Property in any amount by the person or a third party; or
  • For a person's injuries caused by a dangerous condition created as a result of the theft or attempted theft of the owner's Metal Property in any amount when the owner of the metal property did not know and could not have reasonably known of the dangerous condition.
Penalties

Except as provided below, a person who intentionally violates any provision of the law is guilty of:

  • First offense: a Class B misdemeanor;
  • Second offense: a Class A misdemeanor;
  • Third or subsequent offense within a 10 year period: a Class C felony;

A violation of the Possession or Control of Stolen Property provision involving utility access covers, manhole covers, or storm drain covers; or involving grave markers, vases, memorials, statues, plaques, or other bronze objects used at a cemetery or other location where deceased persons are interred or memorialized, is a:

  • First offense: Class C felony;
  • Second offense: Class B felony;
  •  Third or subsequent offense within a 10 year period: Class A felony. 

Giving false information to and receiving consideration from a Recycler in return for metal property is a Class C felony.

A person releasing or using data from the ACJIC database in an unauthorized manner is subject to the provisions of Section 13A-10-82 - Misuse of Confidential Information.

Violation of the Restricted Property documentation requirement is a Class B felony.

Damage or destruction of any of the following with the intent to damage property and having no right to do so or any reasonable ground to believe that he or she has such a right is a Class C felony, or a Class B felony if the damage or destruction causes any condition that could hinder or disrupt the normal operation of equipment, systems, or services provided for the health and safety of the public, metal owner's employees, first responders, law enforcement officers, or utility workers or cause an interruption in communications services or electric utility services. Additionally, the judge may order restitution not less than the value of the metal property damaged or stolen, including the cost of replacement and the cost to repair any and all damage cause during the commission of the crime:

  • Telecommunications, cable communications, or electric power transmission pedestal or pole owned or operated by a telecommunications, cable, or electric power company or cooperative, or electric power supplier, or railroad.
  • Telecommunications, cable communications, or electric power grounding or any other equipment or materials used in the delivery of electricity, wire, fiber insulator, power supply transformer, ground wire, or other apparatus, equipment, or fixture used in the transmission of telecommunications, cable communications, or electric power owned or operated by a telecommunications, cable, or electric power company or cooperative, or electric power supplier, or railroad.
  • Equipment used in the transmission of wireless communications or related to wireless communications. • Equipment used at any facility of over the air broadcast companies.
  • Railroad materials and lading, including, but not limited to, any rail telecommunications; cable communications; power and signal equipment and wires; road/rail crossing signals, equipment, and wires; metal property lading being transported by a railroad; and any railroad track and other operating materials, including switch component, spike, angle bar, tie plate or bolt of the type used in constructing railroads.
  • Electric power line, gas line, water line, wire or fiber insulators, electric motors or other apparatus, heating and cooling systems, and environmental control systems that are connected to farm shops, on-farm grain drying and storage complexes, animal production facilities, irrigation systems, greenhouse facilities, or other agricultural, forestry, or food-related activities, equipment, structures, systems, or vehicles.
  • Any electric power line, gas line, water line, wire or fiber insulators, fencing, gates, security structures, electric motors or other apparatus, metering instruments, communications antenna, environmental control systems, and processing plants that are connected to oil, natural gas, coalbed methane, shale gas, or other petroleum producing properties, equipment, structures, systems, or vehicles.
  • Any metal property from a school, place of worship, or a Recycler's premises.
  • A copper, aluminum, or aluminum-copper condensing or evaporating coil, including its tubing or rods, from a heating or air conditioning unit, excluding scrap from window air conditioning units and automobile condenser coils, unless the seller:

    Is a licensed contractor, HVAC contractor, plumber, or electrician and a current and valid license with number is provided and copied by the Recycler at the time of sale; or

    Has verifiable documentation, such as a receipt or work order, indicating that the condenser coils are the result of a replacement of an air conditioner unit or condenser coils performed by a licensed contractor.
  • Utility access covers, manhole covers, or storm drain covers, unless the seller is a company that deals in the manufacture or sale of the aforementioned products.
  • Grave markers, vases, memorials, statues, plaques, or other bronze objects used at a cemetery or other location where deceased persons are interred or memorialized or any other metal historic markers or monuments or the attached support or post to either, unless the seller is a company that deals in the manufacture or sale of the aforementioned products.

Compliance with the Recordkeeping, Restricted Property, Retention, Reporting, Registration, Payment Restrictions, No Purchase from Minors, and Hours of Operation provisions shall be recognized by law enforcement and the Alabama courts as evidence the possession of Metal Property is legal.

This law shall not be construed to repeal other criminal laws. Whenever conduct prescribed by any provision of the law is also prescribed by any other provision of law, the provision which carries the more serious penalty shall be applied.

Preemption

This article "shall take precedence over any and all local ordinances governing purchase transactions of metal property by a secondary metals recycler."

©2016. The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. All rights reserved.

This summary of State Metals Theft Laws is being viewed on this website under license and is owned and copyrighted by Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. ("ISRI"),1615 L Street, N.W., Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036.