Bryan Cohen May 1, 2013, 5:05pm

BISMARCK, N.D. (Legal Newsline) - North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem announced Tuesday that new laws will go into effect on Wednesday to regulate the sales of scrap metal in North Dakota.

The regulations will provide law enforcement with new tools to look into reports of stolen building, construction and industrial materials, including copper wire and metal pipe. The laws will also provide protections for scrap metal dealers.

"As the price of certain metals has surged, we have seen a dramatic increase in both the number of thefts and the value of the stolen items," Stenehjem said. "Thieves are now targeting industrial and commercial sites, stealing hundreds, sometimes thousands, of pounds of materials to sell as scrap metal."

The regulations followed a series of thefts involving thousands of pounds of metal, including multiple thefts in Grand Forks and Fargo, a theft of $40,000 worth of copper wire in Williston in February and the theft of 26,000 pounds of copper worth more than $100,000 in the Fargo area earlier in April. Three people have been arrested in connection to the Fargo thefts.

Stenehjem recommended the new legislation to the legislature, which added an emergency clause to make sure the bill took effect on Wednesday.

Starting on Wednesday, scrap metal dealers will need to keep a record of any transaction involving more than $25 worth of scrap metal, including details of the type and amount of scrap metal involved, payment information and a copy of the seller's government issued photo ID card. Transactions involving more than $1,000 worth of scrap metal may not use cash payments. The regulations also allow for dealer inventory, premises and transaction records to be inspected by law enforcement. Failing to comply with the law is a criminal offense.

The regulations do not apply to beer kegs, food and beverage containers or wrecked cars.

North Dakota is the 49th state to impose regulations on scrap metal purchases.

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