Please Note: Changes by 2013 Washington HB 1552, signed with a partial veto by the Governor, are noted in the summary
Covered Metal Property, as used in this summary, refers to an item of Private Metal Property, Nonferrous Metal Property, or Commercial Metal Property.
"Nonferrous Metal Property" means metal property for which the value of the metal property is derived from the property's content of copper, brass, aluminum, bronze, lead, zinc, nickel, and their alloys. Excludes Precious Metals (gold, silver, and platinum).
"Private Metal Property" means catalytic converters, either singly or in bundles, bales, or bulk, that have been removed from vehicles for sale as a specific commodity.
"Commercial Metal Property" means:
"Scrap Metal Business" means one of the following:
"Engage in business" means more than 12 transactions in a 12-month period. (added by HB 1552)
"Commercial Enterprise" means a corporation, partnership, limited liability company, association, state agency, political subdivision of the state, public corporation, or any other legal or commercial entity.
"Commercial Account" means a relationship between a Scrap Metal Business and a Commercial Enterprise that is ongoing and properly documented.
"Transaction" means a pledge, purchase or trade of Private or Nonferrous Metal Property by a Scrap Metal Business from a member of the general public. Excludes donations or the purchase or receipt of Private or Nonferrous Metal Property from a Commercial Enterprise, another Scrap Metal Business, or a duly authorized employee or agent of such.
The Recordkeeping - General Public and the Payment Restrictions provisions exempt donations or the purchase or receipt of Nonferrous or Private Metal Property by a Scrap Metal Business involving a Commercial Enterprise, another Scrap Metal Business, or a duly authorized employee or agent of such.
(Amended by HB 1552) Excludes transactions involving metal from the components of vehicles acquired by vehicle wreckers, hulk haulers, or scrap processors licensed under Section 46.79 or Section 46.80 and acquired in accordance with such or transactions conducted by:
A Scrap Metal Business must create an accurate and legible English record of each purchase, pledge, or trade of Nonferrous or Private Metal Property from a member of the general public. The record must be on a standardized or electronic form with the following:
"I, the undersigned, affirm under penalty of law that the property that is subject to this transaction is not to the best of my knowledge stolen property."
A Scrap Metal Business may not purchase or receive Private or Commercial Metal Property unless one of the following applies:
A Scrap Metal Business must create a permanent record with a Commercial Enterprise, including another Scrap Metal Business, with the following information to create a Commercial Account:
Except as provided below, no cash payments for Private Metal Property or Nonferrous Metal Property; payments must be by a nontransferable check, mailed to a street address provided for the records no earlier than three days after the transaction date.
(added by HB 1552) Up to $30 may be paid in cash, stored value device, or electronic funds transfer, with the balance made by nontransferable check, stored value device, or electronic funds transfer at the time of the transaction, if the Scrap Metal Business additionally records the following:
Records must generally be retained for 5 years wherever that business is conducted, except that where a Scrap Metal Business takes a digital image or video in order to utilize the exemptions on Payment Restrictions above:
Commercial Account records must be retained for 3 years.
(HB 1552 increases general retention from 1 year, adds image and video periods, and changes Commercial account retention from permanent).
Records must be open at all times during ordinary business hours, or at reasonable times if ordinary hours are not kept, for inspection by any commissioned law enforcement officer of the state or any of its political subdivisions.
(added by HB 1552:)License certificates may be inspected by an investigating officer at any time. Licensed premises and records may be inspected during normal business hours by chiefs of police, county sheriffs, the Washington state patrol, or an authorized agent of the Department of Licensing, and are subject to unannounced periodic inspections.
A Scrap Metal Business with good cause to believe that any Covered Metal Property in its possession was previously lost or stolen must promptly report the following to the applicable commissioned law enforcement officer of the state, the chief of police, or the county's chief law enforcement officer:
Upon request by any commissioned law enforcement officer of the state or any political subdivision, every Scrap Metal Business must furnish record transcripts involving only a specified individual, vehicle, or item. Such reports must be transmitted within 2 business days electronically, by fax, modem or similar, or by delivery of a computer disk subject to the requirements and approval of the chief of police or county's chief law enforcement officer. (added by HB 1552) Reports are exempt from disclosure under Section 42.56.
(added by HB 1552) Compliance with the Reporting requirements shall not give rise to or form the basis of private civil liability on the part of a Scrap Metal Business.
Following written notice from a commissioned law enforcement officer of the state or a political subdivision that an item of Covered Metal Property has been reported stolen, a Scrap Metal Business must tag and hold the item up to 10 business days. An officer may only place a hold if their agency reasonably suspects the property is a lost or stolen item. If an item is determined not stolen or lost, any hold must be removed within 10 business days and the property returned to the owner or released. (HB 1552 removes verbal notice)
No purchase or receipt of metallic wire burned in whole or in part to remove insulation unless the Seller produces written proof the wire was lawfully burned.
A Scrap Metal Business may only purchase or receive beer kegs from a beer keg manufacturer or a licensed brewery.
A Scrap Metal Business may not purchase or receive Covered Metal Property from a person, whether the person is acting on their own or as an agent of another, if the business was informed by a law enforcement agency that the person was convicted of a crime involving one of the following within the past 4 years: (HB 1552 reduces from 10 years)
Beginning July 1, 2014, when funded, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs shall create and operate an ongoing web-accessible No Buy List database. The database must allow any Scrap Metal Business to enter a customer's name and date of birth and determine whether the customer has been convicted of a crime in Washington involving burglary, robbery, theft, or possession or receiving stolen property within the past 4 years, and send the Business an alert if the customer is on the No Buy List. A Scrap Metal Business must check the No Buy List before completing any Covered Metal transaction. The Association is not liable for civil damages from an act or omission in carrying out the list unless it is gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct.
Law enforcement agencies may register with ISRI's Scrap Theft Alert system to receive alerts on thefts of Covered Metal in the relevant area.
Any licensed Scrap Metal Business must sign up with ISRI's Scrap Theft Alert system to receive alerts, download the alerts on a general basis, use the alerts to identify potentially stolen Covered Metal Property, and maintain copies of any theft alerts for 90 days.
A Scrap Metal Business must be licensed by the Department of Licensing, with licenses valid for 1 year. An application must include the following:
A Certificate of Approval from the chief executive officer or chief of police of an incorporated area or sheriff of a county, or their designee, or an authorized representative of the Department of Licensing, certifying that:
A Scrap Metal Processor or Recycler (but not a Supplier) must also file a $10,000 surety bond filed with the Department of Licensing, from which any person who has suffered loss or damage by reason of fraud, gross negligence, or an intentional or reckless violation of the law, or misrepresentation by the Processor or Recycler, may institute an action for recovery. The aggregate liability of the surety shall not exceed the bond.
The Scrap Metal Business must prominently display its license certificate in the place of business. A licensee must also obtain special license plates for their vehicles, for a fee of $5 for the original plates and $2 for each additional set with the same number. A licensee with multiple locations may use vehicles with the special plates out of any licensed location.
The Director of Licensing may adopt reasonable rules and regulations that do not conflict with the law, and set forth all licensing and renewal fees.
The Department of Licensing or its authorized agent may examine or subpoena any persons, books, papers, records, data, vehicles, or metal property bearing upon an investigation or proceeding under the law. The Director of Licensing or an authorized agent may administer an oath to testify under penalty of perjury in the first degree. The Director or an authorized agent may also obtain a superior court order approving and authorizing a subpoena in advance, without prior notice to the person being subpoenaed or investigated.
(added by HB 1552) Engaging in business as a Scrap Metal Business without a license is a gross misdemeanor, or a class C felony for a second or subsequent offense. Unlicensed practice, the issuance and denial of license, and the discipline of licensees is covered by § 18.235. The Department of Licensing may refuse to issue a license if the license is filed by or on behalf of an applicant has previously had a license canceled, or if the Department is of the opinion the application is not filed in good faith.
It is a gross misdemeanor punishable under Section 9A.20 for:
Each violation not subject to the criminal penalties above is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, or up to $2,000 for a subsequent violation within 2 years of the previous.
(Amended by HB 1552) Under Section 9A.56, theft of Covered Metal Property is theft of the first degree if the costs of the damage to the owner's property exceed $5,000 in value, or theft of the second degree if costs exceed $750 but do not exceed $5,000.
For a crime involving theft, trafficking, or unlawful possession of Commercial Metal Property of at least a class C felony, the following property is subject to seizure:
Seizure does not apply to:
A law enforcement officer acting under a process from a superior court with jurisdiction may seize property. Seized real property shall not be transferred for 90 days or until a judgment of forfeiture is entered, whichever is later. Personal property may be seized without process if the seizure is incidental to an arrest, a search under a search warrant, or the property was subject to a prior criminal judgment or forfeiture in favor of the state.
The seizing agency must serve notice within 15 days to the owner, the person in charge of the property, and anyone with a known right or interest to the property. Notices for real property must be served in accordance to the rules of civil procedure, except the state may not obtain a default judgment against a person served by substitute service without an affidavit of a good faith effort to check if the person was incarcerated in the state.
Unless someone notifies the seizing agency in writing of a claim to the property within 45 days for personal property or 90 days for real property, the item shall be deemed forfeited. A person asserting a claim may be heard before the chief law enforcement officer of the seizing agency, their designee, or an administrative law judge. The claimant may insist on a court hearing, but must serve process according to the law. In a court hearing between two or more claimants, the prevailing party is entitled to costs and reasonable attorney's fees.
Property that is lawfully seized may be retained for official use, released to another law enforcement agency, or sold if not required to be destroyed by law, with 50% of the net proceeds remitted to any known victim of the crime involving the seized property.
The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs shall establish a grant program to assist local law enforcement in targeting metal theft, with administration costs not exceeding the greater of $60,000 or 3% of appropriated funding. Grant awards may not supplant preexisting funding sources for metal theft enforcement. Applicants must:
If any provision or its application to a person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the law or its application to other persons or circumstances is not affected.
The law shall be liberally construed to prevent traffic in stolen metal property, to prevent irresponsible, unreliable, or dishonest persons from engaging as a Scrap Metal Business, and to encourage reliable persons to engage in a Scrap Metal Business.
The regulation of Scrap Metal Businesses is preempted by the state. Any political subdivision may only enact or enforce laws and ordinances related to such that are specifically authorized by and consistent with the law. Nothing in the law is intended to limit a political subdivision's authority to impose zoning, land use, permitting, general business licensing, environmental, and health and safety requirements or authorized business taxes within their jurisdictions. Local ordinances must have the same or lesser penalty as provided by state law; local ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law are preempted and repealed.
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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.