Bill proposes stiffer penalties for copper thieves

Louisiana Politics

POSTED: Thursday, February 23, 2012 - 6:30pm

UPDATED: Thursday, February 23, 2012 - 6:47pm

"Here we are trying to take care of the poor and feed those most in need and then somebody comes and does this to us," says President of the Baton Rouge Food Bank Mike Manning.

Mike Manning runs the Baton Rouge Food Bank. Back in September, thieves broke into the company's warehouse and caused more than $100,000 in damage, all for a few hundred bucks in copper.

"You're talking about $100,000 for an organization that feeds the hungry. I think that pretty much sums up the setback," says Manning.

One Louisiana representative says copper thieves need to be stopped. That's why Lance Harris has prefiled House Bill 48. It creates the crime "Theft of Copper" and has some stiff penalties. Someone convicted could be slapped with a $5000 fine and spend at least five years in prison.

"It's a huge problem and we need to curtail it the best we can and I think the best way is to make the penalty much stiffer," says Representative Lance Harris of Alexandria.

Right now when people steal items with copper in them, like air conditioners, they are only charged with theft. Manning's all for the stiffer penalties.

"I think that anything we can do to make it more difficult for people to take advantage of taking copper and melting it down, translating it into scrap. Anything we can do to suppress that will help with the problem we're having with copper that's all over town," says Manning.

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