Two men caught stealing scrap metal

Sen. Klobuchar has proposed legislation to stop scrap metal theft.

Jake Stark

Two men were arrested for stealing scrap metal from a construction area near Frontier Hall on Wednesday morning, according to a University of Minnesota police report.

University police stopped the two suspects, who are not affiliated with the University, in their vehicle at Frontier Hall, according to the report. Both suspects were held at the scene but released after being cited for misdemeanor theft.

Taking any type of metal, even scrap metal, from someone else’s property is illegal, University police Chief Greg Hestness said.

“You never want a theft to take place,” he said. “But you especially don’t want it when it holds back a project that is publically funded.”

The multiple construction projects around campus have made the area a target for people looking to steal scrap metal, Hestness said. Several brass monuments were stolen from Scholars Walk one night last year.

He added that scrap metal is an attractive target for thieves because it’s very profitable and difficult to track.

“A piece of scrap metal doesn’t have a serial number on it,” he said. “So they can sell it, and there are scrap metal dealers who will purchase them.”

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., has proposed a bill in Congress to combat scrap-metal theft.

The Metal Theft Prevention Act would make it a federal crime to steal metal from critical infrastructure, such as railroad equipment.

It would also require recyclers who buy more than $100 of metal to pay by check, making it easier to track sellers.

The bill hasn’t passed yet, but Klobuchar told the Star Tribune she expects it to get through the Judiciary Committee this year.