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Back to Scrap Laws West Virginia Metal Scrap Statute
Current as of November 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
Overview of Provisions (use the section titles to travel directly to that section)

Please Note: West Virginia Section 31-2-17 imposes restrictions on Railroad Scrap Metal that are separate from the rest of the Scrap Metal statutes; it is included at the end of the summary.

Materials Covered and Other Definitions

"Scrap Metal" means any nonferrous metal of any kind, a catalytic converter or any materials derived from a catalytic converter, or steel railroad track and track material.

"Scrap Metal Dealer" is used but undefined. "Purchaser" means any person in the business of purchasing scrap metal or used auto parts, any salvage yard owner or operator, or any public or commercial recycling facility owner or operator, or any agent or employee thereof, who purchases any form of scrap metal or used auto parts.

As used in Section 31-2-17, "Railroad Scrap Metal" means any materials derived from railroad track, railroad track material, worn or used links, pins, journal bearings, or other worn, used, or detached appendages of railroad equipment or railroad track.


The following are exempted:

  • Purchases by manufacturing facilities that melt, or otherwise alter the form of scrap metal and transform it into a new product;
  • Food and beverage containers or other nonindustrial materials having a marginal value per individual unit;

Purchasers of catalytic converters when the catalytic converter is:

  • Installed on a vehicle;
  • Intended for installation on a vehicle owned or leased by the purchaser; or
  • Purchased for personal, family, household, or business use and not for resale.

A "scrap metal dealer" (undefined) must do all of the following:

  • Register any scales used for weighing scrap metal with the Division of Labor Weights and Measures office;
  • Provide a notice of recycling activity to the Department of Environmental Protection; and
  • Register as a scrap metal dealer with the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State will make a list of registered Dealers publically available with a Dealer's business address, hours of operation, physical address, phone number, fax number, and the names of the owners or principal officers.

Purchasers of scrap metal must record the following for each transaction:

  • Seller's full name, permanent home and business addresses, and telephone number, if available;
  • A description and the license number of any vehicle used to transport the metal;
  • Time and Date of the transaction;
  • Description of the kind, character, and weight of the scrap metal purchased;
  • Statement of whether the metal was purchased, taken as collateral for a loan, or taken on consignment.
  • A copy of the Deliverer's government-issued photo ID; or the Purchaser may reference an existing copy of the ID on file.

A signed certificate of ownership or a signed authorization to sell from the owner;

  • For Railroad Scrap Metal, the Seller's written evidence of authorization to sell (see Railroad Scrap Metal provision)

For deliveries of 5 or more non-exempt catalytic converters, the Seller shall also:

  • Execute (sign) a document that the Seller is the lawful owner or is authorized by the lawful owner to sell; and
  • Fingerprint: provide a clear impression of the Seller's index finger or thumb next to their signature.

For any purchases made at wholesale under a contract or as a result of a bidding process, instead of the record requirements above a Purchaser may retain the contract, bill of sale, or similar documentation of the purchase. The Purchaser may redact any pricing or other commercially sensitive information before making it available for inspection.

Purchase Restriction - Beer Kegs

A Purchaser may only purchase a stainless steel or aluminum beer keg or parts for reselling as scrap metal from the beer manufacturer or its authorized representative.

Purchase Restrictions - Listed Items

A scrap metal dealer may only purchase the following or any reasonably recognizable part thereof if the dealer obtains written documentation that the Seller is authorized to possess and sell the item or items and that the seller is in lawful possession of the item:

  • Utility access covers;
  • Street light poles or fixtures;
  • Road or bridge guard rails;
  • Water meter covers;
  • Highway or street signs;
  • Traffic directional or traffic control signs;
  • Traffic light signals;
  • Any metal marked with any form of the name or initials of a governmental entity;
  • Property marked as or readily identifiable as owned by a telephone, cable, electric, water or other utility provider;
  • Property owned and marked by a railroad;
  • Cemetery markers or vases;
  • Historical markers;
  • Utility manhole covers and storm water grates; and
  • Fire hydrant or fire hydrant caps; or
  • Twisted pair copper telecommunications wiring of twenty- five pair or greater in nineteen, twenty-two, twenty-four or twenty-six gauge.

Purchasers must either:

  • Retain records at their place of business for 3 years after the date of purchase; or
  • File records within 72 hours with the local detachment of the State Police and either the chief of police of the municipality or sheriff of the county where the Purchaser is transacting business. Law enforcement must retain for 3 years.

If the Purchaser retains records, they must be available for inspection by any law enforcement officer or, upon written request and during the purchaser's regular business hours, by any investigator employed by a public utility or railroad to investigate the theft of public utility or railroad property. Such investigators may accompany law enforcement upon the premises of a purchaser in the execution of a valid warrant or assist law enforcement in the review of transaction records.

Return of Scrap Metal

Upon the entry of a final determination and order by a court of competent jurisdiction, scrap metal found to have been misappropriated, stolen or taken under false pretenses may be returned to the proper owner of such material.


Violating the law with knowing or fraudulent intent, including knowingly failing to make a report or falsifying information, is a misdemeanor punishable by:

  • 1st offense: $1,000 to $3,000 fine;
  • 2nd offense: $2,000 to $4,000 fine and a 6 month suspension of any business registration certificate held by the person;
  • 3rd or subsequent: $3,000 to $5,000 fine and cancellation of any business registration certificate held by the person.

Section 11-12-5a provides that no person may apply for a business registration certificate that would permit them to own, conduct, or operate any business involving the purchase of scrap metal or the operation or any salvage yard or recycling facility if:

  • The person had a previous registration cancelled by the penalties of Section 61-3-49; or
  • A person convicted in the previous 2 years of a 3rd or subsequent offense of Section 61-3- 49 will hold a financial interest, be employed, or otherwise be involved in the dayto-day operations of the business.

A person having or taking possession of scrap metal, or a scrap metal dealer purchasing, possessing, or receiving scrap metal from a seller, when the person or dealer knows or has reason to know the metal has been stolen or unlawfully obtained, is guilty of a larceny

Section 61-3-49b provides the following penalties for a person who causes a disruption of communications or public utility services by the theft or intentional damaging of equipment and causes either: a disruption of communication or public utility services to 10 or more households or subscribers; or a loss in the value of property of $1,000 or more:

  • 1st offense: misdemeanor, subject to 2,000 hours of court approved community service and/or a maximum $10,000 fine;
  • 2nd offense: felony, subject to 1 to 5 years imprisonment in a state correctional facility and/or a maximum $10,000 fine;
  • 3rd or subsequent: felony, subject to 1 to 10 years imprisonment in a correctional facility and/or a maximum $10,000 fine.


Agreement with Law Enforcement

A Scrap metal dealer, pursuant to a written agreement with law-enforcement officials, is not prohibited from purchasing or taking possession of scrap metal the dealer knows or has reason to know has been stolen or obtained illegally.

Railroad Scrap Metal

As provided in Section 31-2-17 Railroad Scrap Metal may only be sold by an authorized agent or employee of the company that owns it. A sale or disposition is void if the purchaser knowingly makes it with an unauthorized Seller. Railroad Scrap Metal must be:

  • Sold in quantities of 1 ton or more;
  • Accompanied by a bill of sale or other written evidence of authorization to sell, a copy of which must be retained by the purchaser and the Seller.

In a civil suit between a purchaser and the formerly owning company:

  • The company claiming rightful ownership of Railroad Scrap Metal may seek an immediate court ordered hold on the scrap and any other metals it may have been mixed with while the suit is pending.
  • If a purchaser knowingly purchases Railroad Scrap Metal without attempting to check that the Seller is authorized, the owning company shall be rewarded costs and attorneys fees.
  • A purchaser that cannot produce a copy of the authorization to sell shall be presumed to have unlawfully taken from the owning company. In absence of adequate proof to the contrary, the owning company is entitled to immediate possession of the material. If the Railroad Scrap Metal has been intentionally mixed with other scrap, the purchaser loses all rights to the mixed metal unless the Railroad Scrap can be identified and separated. Does not apply if an authorized Seller sells Railroad Scrap Metal in quantities of less than 1 ton or without providing a copy of their authorization to sell.

©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.