Michael Calhoun (@michaelcalhoun, mrcalhoun@cbs.com)

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – A third of all burglary calls in St. Louis County are of scrap metal from foreclosed homes, according to Police Chief Tim Fitch, which is why the County Council on Tuesday passed new restrictions on the way scrap can be sold.

“They’re feeding a drug habit,” he said of the sellers. “They can take that scrap metal, under existing rules today, and turn it in for cash on the spot with no questions asked in many places.”

Air conditioners at foreclosed homes appear to be the biggest target of these thieves.

Under the new guidelines, sellers would have to present a identification to the dealer and be entered into a registry. Most would also get a check in the mail, instead of cash.

There’s just one catch: the new law only applies to unincorporated areas of St. Louis County, meaning eight municipalities are going to have to pass their own laws to make sure all dealers are covered.


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