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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Curbing copper theft

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  • A meeting was held recently by Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett to put heads together to come up with ideas to spur legislation to help combat copper and other metal thefts. The group included area farmers , electric providers, law enforcement, insurance companies, state organizations and elected officials.
    The growing theft problem has had a huge impact on farmers, contractors, homeowners, landlords and utility companies. These thefts ultimately affect everyone. Insurance companies are paying out large claims which are passed on to every consumer somewhere along the line. When an irrigation pivot has the wire cut and removed, the thieves get a few hundred dollars from recyclers, but the owner of the pivot has a $10,000 bill to repair the unit. Landlords pass on their losses to their renters, and utility companies pass on the costs to their customers. Even when insurance covers the majority of the loss there is always a deductible to deal with along with down time for all those concerned. And, with so many more claims, year after year, insurance premiums go up. There is also talk of companies not insuring the irrigation systems for theft in the future. That will affect every grower and consumer in the country.
    We would like to invite everyone concerned to share their ideas to help come up with a strategy to spur legislature to enact a bill that would make penalties much harsher to help detour this growing problem.
    Sedgwick County D.A. Bennett would like to hear from everyone who has a suggestion and who wants to be included in helping get a bill passed to detour metal thefts. He would like to have ideas in the near future so a bill can be introduced when state legislators convene in January. Plans are being made for a meeting with the recycling dealers to see what ideas they have. These ideas will be shared at a later date.
    Assistant Sedgwick District Attorney Matt Dwyer has researched what has and hasn't worked for other areas of our country that also have theft problems. If you would like a copy of his findings, along with a rough draft of a bill for our legislators to consider, please email us or Sedgwick County D.A. Media Coordinator Dan W. Dillon.
    Please share your thoughts. There has to be a solution to the problem and we need to start finding that solution now.
    —Terry and Ruth Jacob, farmers in southern Harvey County, ruth1110@kanokla.net and  Dan W. Dillon, Sedgwick County D.A. media, dwdillon@sedgwick.gov

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