By Maggie Thurber | Ohio Watchdog
Got any scrap metal around your house? Think you might be able to make a bit of money by selling it rather than just putting it in your trash?
If so, you better make sure to put on some clean clothes, comb your hair or put on a little bit of makeup when you load up and take it to your local scrap metal dealer — they’re going to take your picture.
At least, they will if some Ohio lawmakers get their way.
S.B. 193 was passed by the Ohio Senate in March and could see a vote in the House Commerce, Labor & Technology Committee as early as Wednesday. The bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Bill Seitz from Cincinnati, would not just required scrap metal dealers to take a photo of every person who sells or gives them an item, it would prohibit them from purchasing or accepting any item without the photo.
Considering that the law would require the photo from the seller before making the transaction, I don’t understand the redundancy of prohibiting the sale without the photo. But then, I’m not a state legislator.
Ohio law already requires dealers to keep a record of your name and address, along with a copy of your ID, when you sell certain items. Apparently, that’s just not enough information for the state, so they’ve added a photograph taken by the dealer as well.
But it’s not just you. The bill also adds plastic and wooden bulk merchandise containers—– like those used to transport items such as milk gallons — to the list of items requiring photographs when sold.
The only good news in this new law is that the dealer has to keep the record for 60 days instead of a year.
And if the dealer doesn’t immortalize your smiling face, he can be charged with a third degree misdemeanor, with up to 60 days in jail and up to $500 fine if convicted. And since this is an escalating misdemeanor, subsequent violations increase the penalties to a maximum of $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
All for failing to take a picture.
In his news release touting passage by the Senate, Seitz billed this new law as “protecting home owners” from scrap metal thieves.
“What is particularly offensive about scrap metal theft is the disproportionate cost of the property damage done by thieves in comparison to the value of the metal they steal,” Seitz said. “This legislation adds another tool for law enforcement officers to use to catch these criminals as well as hold scrap metal dealers accountable.”
Seitz noted an incident in his district in which a chiller unit that cost tens of thousands of dollars was irreparably damaged by thieves who obtained just a few hundred dollars worth of metal.
Seitz decided to introduce the bill when a local sheriff complained. Apparently he, and the other senators who voted in favor of the bill, believe the photos “could be used by law enforcement officials in their efforts to combat the theft of scrap metal in Ohio.”
But “could” is much different than “will,” so let’s bring a little common sense to the discussion.
How, exactly, will requiring a photo — on top of the existing requirement of name, address and ID — stop scrap metal thefts? If a photo ID isn’t enough, what good will requiring another photograph do?
Did anyone bother to estimate the cost of this new law? Most places of business will have a copier, but they won’t all have cameras, or the ability to print out the photograph or attach it to the purchase record.
What about all the people who aren’t thieves who just want to sell some scrap rather than pitch it? Did anyone think about the rights of the legal sellers? And I completely and totally reject the argument that if you’re not doing anything illegal, you don’t have anything to worry about.
Will this escalate into photographs for any item that can be stolen and sold? What about pawn brokers? They’re not currently required to take a photo … but perhaps I’ve just given some Ohio legislator another idea.
The bottom line is that this bill will do nothing to protect property owners. Thieves will continue to steal and if providing a photo ID in order to sell their stolen goods doesn’t help the police catch them after the fact, having a photograph of the individual won’t either.