Cell Towers Stripped of Copper; St. Louis County Considers Crack-Down

Michael Calhoun

CLAYTON (KMOX) – St. Louis County Council members gave first-round approval Tuesday to stricter guidelines for those buying and selling scrap metal.

It’s designed to better keep track of scrap thieves to steal from cars, air conditioners and even phone lines and cell towers.

County councilwoman Hazel Erby said the legislation is a result of feedback from municipalities within her district.

“They need to have photos I.D.s, there will be a registry that scrap metal dealers keep with documentation on who the people are that are selling it,” and scrap buyers will have to mail a check to the address listed on the buyer’s I.D. In other words — no more cash.

Scott Whitener, in asset protection for AT&T, said the company spent about a half-million dollars last year in Missouri on copper stolen from cell sites and landlines to customers’ homes.

“My experience, frankly, is that these copper thefts are committed by individuals that have a substance abuse issue, and their main focus is to get quick cash,” he said at the county council’s May 15th meeting.

Erby said that’s part, but not all, of the problem.

“The economy is bad right now and so people find a way to make extra money.”

In addition to AT&T, the Associated General Contractors and St. Louis Association of Realtors spoke in favor the crack-down.

The council’s tentative approval was unanimous. It will likely be finally passed at the May 29th meeting.

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