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House Committee Reviewing Bill Stiffening Scrap Metal Theft Penalties

Tom Woodward, flickr Creative Commons

The Kansas House Judiciary Committee is reviewing a bill to significantly increase penalties for scrap metal theft.

The committee had a hearing yesterday on a bill to make damaging a building or other structure to steal scrap a felony punishable by up to 19 months in jail for a first offense.

Farm and law enforcement groups say scrap thieves often do thousands of dollars in damage when removing precious metals.

Democratic Rep. Jim Ward of Wichita said that the state can not afford more-crowded prisons and suggested that the bill be coupled with legislation to reduce other prisoners' sentences.

Republican Representative Craig McPherson of Overland Park also said provisions in the measure to track scrap items would increase bureaucracy.

The Senate passed the bill last month.